Neighbors say they knew little about Pardus, except for concern for mother

Members of Arlington, Va., neighborhood mostly kept to selves

September 17, 2010|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Conversations with family and neighbors of Paul Warren Pardus paint a picture of a man who cared for his ailing mother but mostly kept to himself.

Pardus died Thursday at a building at Johns Hopkins Hospital after shooting a doctor, barricading himself in his mother's hospital room and eventually turning the gun on his mother and himself, according to police. Several Hopkins personnel, some who worked on the eighth floor of the Nelson building, said that Pardus blamed Cohen for paralyzing his mother during surgery.

Pardus, 50, was a single man whose mother had moved into his tiny home in Arlington, Va., about three miles west of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Neighbors said he was a driver for a service for disabled people, but his first obligation was to his mother.

Few neighbors on the block of South Kenmore street where Pardus and his mother lived said that they talked to him beyond a friendly greeting. Most said they did not know him or his mother well.

"I saw the ambulance there a couple of times, and we saw him taking his very aged mother in and out occasionally," said a woman who lives directly across the street from Pardus. She said her first name was Mary but declined to give her last name.

"Occasionally we saw the MetroAccess van that he drove," the woman added. "We saw that parked right there, but that's it. They were just quiet people. We didn't really interact."

The long block is dense with old, mostly wood-paneled single family homes just a few feet apart. At one end of the block is a transit bus stop, which draws residents from other neighborhoods.

The neighborhood is a stark contrast from that of Shirlington Village, an upscale community a few blocks away that is populated with posh high-rise condominiums and eclectic restaurants.

Vanessa Allen, who lived across the street from Pardus, said she didn't know him well but often saw him with his mother.

"I always admired him, how he took care of her. That's why I was so shocked when I found out it was him," Allen said. "I can't believe he would shoot his own mother."

Pardus' brother, 59-year-old Alvin Gibson of Remington, Va., said that his dedication to their mother likely led him to act as he did Thursday.

"I guess because he thought my mom was suffering because the surgery wasn't successful and she probably wouldn't be able to walk again," said Alvin Gibson, Pardus' brother. "She was a dear, sweet lady. She just wanted to walk around like she did when she was younger."

Most of the people in Pardus' neighborhood declined to be interviewed, some peeking from behind curtains and shaking their heads. One woman would only say that she did not know Pardus. "I just know that he was a very tall man," he said.

Those who would comment said that though they've been in the neighborhood for years they did not know much about those around them.

"Let me see how many of my neighbors do I know," said a woman who lived three houses down from Pardus, then she pointed to a home across the street where she said a woman had lived since childhood.

"I never really saw [Pardus and his mother], but, then, I'm gone all the time," added the woman, who declined to give her name. "I've never really seen them up close." She did say, however, that occasionally the postal carrier inadvertently delivered Pardus's mail to her home.

She spoke briefly about Thursday's shootings.

"I will say that it's sad, because I know he took care of his mother."

Mary said that though most people in the neighborhood don't know one another personally, they are still friendly. She said that she feels safe there.

"If something happened, I'd send my kids [to neighbors' homes]. If there was an emergency, I could say to my 9-year-old, 'Go across the street [to a neighbor] and tell her to call 911."

She said that occasionally she goes door-to-door delivering baked cookies.

Asked if she ever delivered cookies to the Pardus home she replied, "We tried, but they never answer the door."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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