Man killed in morning shooting in E. Baltimore

Longtime resident calls it an "underworld war"

September 23, 2010|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

Marie Daramy calls it an "underworld war."

It used to be that her street in East Baltimore was full of drug dealers — they sat on the steps, hung out on the corners. Residents knew this, and when a shooting broke out, Daramy said, it was easy to chalk it up to the activity outside.

These days, the street is typically clear, and the overt dealing is largely a memory. But the violence persists.

"This place was full, and every house had a drug dealer," said Daramy, who has lived in her home for 20 years. "[Now], you don't know who, you don't know why. It's like an underworld war."

On Thursday morning, police were back on her street, the 1500 block of N. Broadway, which splits the Oliver and Broadway East communities. A man was shot multiple times in the torso and found in front of a home about 10:12 a.m. Homicide detectives huddled over the blood-stained limestone steps, where a cap and a can of Sprite were left behind.

By late afternoon, the Fire Department had washed away the blood and police had posted two cars on the corner, with officers passing out crime watch pamphlets. The daughter of the 95-year-old woman who lives at the home where the body was found said her mother has dementia and did not hear the shots.

"Did somebody get hurt?" the mother asked.

Yes, somebody got hurt, her daughter said. Killed, in fact. Police identified the victim as James Schools, a 31-year-old with a long record of drug distribution convictions who lived around the corner, in the 1600 block of E. Federal St.

According to court records, he pleaded guilty five times, receiving sentences that totaled 40 years. Thirty-three years, four months and eight days of those sentences were suspended.

Police said they did not know of a motive in Thursday morning's shooting, though several witnesses were taken in for questioning.

Daramy said she heard about five shots. She was sleeping after getting home from work.

"As soon as I heard them, I was on the ground," she said. It's instinctual in Baltimore's violence-prone neighborhoods.

Two doors down from where Schools was found, "R.I.P. Pooh" is scrawled below the windows of a home. On the street corner, a tattered memorial of teddy bears and deflated balloons for 30-year-old Shawn Wright, who was fatally shot Aug. 10 by a man who jumped out of a minivan.

The Eastern District leads the city in homicides this year, with 33 people slain. That's down significantly, however, from the mid-1990s, when the district consistently recorded in excess of 70 killings annually.

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