Hopkins research technician stabbed to death in Charles Village

Victim attacked in apparent robbery; man found fatally shot in E. Baltimore

July 26, 2010|By Justin Fenton, Brent Jones and Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun

A 23-year-old Johns Hopkins research technician was fatally stabbed Sunday night in Charles Village during an apparent robbery, two days before the victim's birthday, according to city police.

Officers responded to a call of an attack at about 11:30 p.m. in the 2600 block of St. Paul St. and found Stephen Pitcairn in the road, suffering from stab wounds to the chest. Investigators believe Pitcairn was walking home from Penn Station after returning from a bus trip when he was approached by a man and woman, said Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman.

A Charles Village resident, who would not give his name, said he witnessed the attack and ran outside to comfort the victim. He was in his home ironing when he saw three people who appeared to be fighting, then heard a scream. He ran outside and saw Pitcairn lying on his stomach in the gutter, then called 911.

"I made it back and held his hand, and I told him that everything was going to be OK," the man said. "He said, 'Help me,' and then I held his hand until he expired. I didn't want him to be alone.

"Nobody wants to die alone."

Police said Pitcairn was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

About 8:30 a.m. Monday, a police SWAT team executed a raid in the 2600 block of Maryland Ave. and took away a man and a woman in plastic handcuffs. Detectives at the scene would not comment about whether they were considered suspects, but Guglielmi confirmed that the raid was connected to the homicide investigation and that two "persons of interest" were detained as a result of information gathered by detectives.

Dennis O'Shea, a spokesman for Johns Hopkins University, said the Hopkins community was "deeply shocked and saddened." Pitcairn joined the university in June 2009 and was promoted July 1 to the position of research technologist, where he was studying breast cancer.

"Stephen was a remarkable young man" whose undergraduate work at Kalamazoo College "so impressed [former Johns Hopkins University President] Bill Richardson that Bill called me to personally support Stephen's application to my lab," said Dr. Gregg Semenza in a statement distributed by the university.

Semenza said Pitcairn spent a year in Japan conducting research and was fluent in Japanese.

"Stephen was in the process of applying to medical school for next year and he had all of the personal qualities needed for a successful career as a physician," Semenza said.

Dr. Edward D. Miller, dean and chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine called Pitcairn's death a "tragedy for his family, his friends, for our institution and for science" and expressed hope for a rapid arrest and conviction.

"This is a terrible, terrible loss," Miller said in a statement.

The stabbing was the second fatal attack in the city Sunday night and one of at least five homicides over the weekend.

At about 7 p.m., Sunday officers responded to a call for shots fired in the 1500 block of Lanhorne Court in East Baltimore and found a 30-year-old man sitting in a vehicle, suffering from a gunshot wound to the head, according to police. Medical crews pronounced the man dead at the scene. Police were waiting to identify the man, pending notification of kin.

Police had no suspects and had not determined a motive in that incident.

In two other unrelated incidents Sunday night, two men were injured with nonfatal gunshot wounds.

A 23-year-old man was shot in the left thigh at about 10:15 p.m. in the 5200 block of Wilton Heights Ave. in Northwest Baltimore, according to police. The victim was taken by a friend to an area hospital. The victim told police that he was outside his home when an unidentified man attempted to rob him. Police said the victim was trying to run away when he was shot.

Later in the night, an unidentified man was shot in the leg in the 1500 block of Baker Ave. in West Baltimore, according to police. The man was taken to an area hospital at about 1:30 a.m., and his condition was unknown.

The Charles Village stabbing is the sixth this year within the Charles Village Benefits District. Just a block away on March 12, a reputed gang leader was gunned down in the 2600 block of Calvert St. A few days later, a man was gunned down in a drive-by shooting.

Police beefed up patrols along Greenmount Ave. after 72-year-old Charles Bowman was killed in a robbery at a carryout store in April, yet two days later a 21-year-old man was fatally shot at the busy intersection of 33rd Street and Greenmount Ave.

Most recently, 35-year-old Yolanda Howard was fatally shot in the 100 block of W. 22nd St., reportedly outside of an after hours club.




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