Man shot inside room at city-owned Hilton hotel

Woman taken into custody after shooting

August 03, 2010|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore police had a woman in custody after a man was shot in a fourth-floor room of the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel, an incident police said appeared to be a domestic dispute.

Police were called to the city-owned hotel near Oriole Park at Camden Yards about 7 p.m. Tuesday and found a man in his 30s who had been shot in the abdomen. A .40-caliber gun was recovered and a woman, who was in her 20s and was the registered owner of the handgun, was taken into custody pending charges.

The man's injuries were considered non-life-threatening and he was taken to an area hospital, while the woman appeared to have suffered "superficial" injuries. Neither was identified, but Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said that both were from Baltimore.

"It keeps coming back to one common thing … this insipid fascination with handguns in Baltimore and the willingness to use them to sort out conflict," he said.

Bealefeld said the pair appeared to be involved in a romantic relationship and detectives had not learned of any prior conflicts. The two had checked in to the hotel Monday and were set to check out Wednesday, Bealefeld said.

No hotel guests were evacuated, and several said they had observed the commotion as police responded. A group of hotel guests on the fourth floor said they heard a woman screaming, "He's going to kill me" and later saw a police SWAT team enter the building.

After the shooting, guests said, they saw a large man wheeled out on a stretcher and a woman loaded into a police van with bags on her hands, which are commonly used to preserve evidence of gunshot residue.

The Hilton made no announcement about what happened, but guests seemed unconcerned after being told of the shooting.

Josh Kolkind, 26, of Duluth, Minn., said he was on a fourth-floor balcony overlooking Camden Yards. At one point, hotel staff directed guests from the hallway to a deck and told them to stay there.

"They handled it," Kolkind said. "They kept things in check and kept us updated."

Another guest, Shawn Starowesky, 32, of Alexandria, Va., said he was in an elevator and tried to step off on the fourth floor when he was directed back to the lobby.

Once there, he saw the victim on a stretcher, covered with a blanket with breathing tubes around him.

When asked if he found the shooting alarming, Starowesky said no.

"I've never been here [in Baltimore] before and I didn't know what to expect, but honestly, no," he said.

Police had an area of the fourth-floor blocked off with a curtain. Soon after the shooting, as late Orioles fans streamed in to the game, the area around the hotel was calm. The Hilton's general manager declined to comment.

"There's no indication that they could have done anything differently," Bealefeld said of the hotel. "It's a little hard for me to pinch my cops – what would they have done with a fourth-floor hotel room?"

This is the second shooting in a downtown hotel in the past year. In December, a birthday party at Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel ended violently when one person was shot and another, the alleged gunman, was disarmed and beaten by the crowd.

In Baltimore County in July, the Ramada Baltimore West in Pikesville was the scene of a money counterfeiting operation. When Baltimore County police and federal agents moved in, a gun battle erupted and one of the accused counterfeiters was shot to death.

Bealefeld said the woman had a minor criminal record but that the man appeared to have open warrants. He said the woman did not appear to have a connection to law enforcement that allowed her to obtain a handgun, but he said there were ties to the bail bonds industry.

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