Police shoot suspect in theft of gun from Federal Hill bank guard

Incident continues rash of daytime incidents in downtown neighborhoods

  • Scene of shooting at 1800 block Light Street.
Scene of shooting at 1800 block Light Street. (Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore…)
April 11, 2011|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

A man who wrestled a handgun away from a bank security guard before fleeing through the Cross Street Market in Federal Hill was shot by police Monday afternoon after witnesses helped officers track him several blocks away in South Baltimore, officials said.

The shooting was the latest incident of daylight violence in well-traveled downtown areas, following a stabbing near Lexington Market on Friday, a fatal shooting at a downtown barbershop Saturday and a rash of armed robberies that swept through the Mount Vernon area on Sunday morning.

Two overnight killings in Brooklyn and East Baltimore also pushed the number of people killed this year in Baltimore to 52, 13 percent more than at this time in 2010, when the city went on to record its lowest homicide numbers in two decades. As of April 9, nonfatal shootings were also up 23 percent, though total crime was flat.

In the Federal Hill incident, police say a man in his 20s disarmed a female security guard standing at the Bank of America at Cross and Light streets before 2 p.m. He unsuccessfully tried to carjack a woman, then fled south as bystanders gave chase and phoned in his description to police as he shed clothes.

"We received tremendous help from the community," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. "We have them to thank for his capture. He was shedding clothing, trying to change his appearance, and people kept telling us, 'He went this way, he's wearing that.'"

Taking a jog through Federal Hill, Lisa Morabito was in front of the bank when she saw the suspect bolt out the front door. The silver handgun glimmered in the sun. She said a male security officer came out next, saying, "He took her gun!" Morabito said she saw the suspect dart into the Cross Street Market.

"It took me a couple seconds to process it," said Morabito, a Sykesville resident who was on a break from her job at a nearby animal shelter.

Down the street, Justin Winn, a subcontractor for BGE, was working on a utility pole in an alley between Barney and Bloomsberry streets. He said he was taking a break out by his truck when he saw the suspect run out of a convenience store and pull a gun on police.

Winn said the officers fired six shots, and the man stumbled 10 feet then fell onto into a gutter behind a parked car.

"I usually work up in Towson," Winn said. "This is my first day in the city, I pop my head up and I see some guy get shot."

The man was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was initially reported as conscious and breathing. The security guard was unharmed, Guglielmi said, and was being debriefed at police headquarters.

While citizens played a crucial role in tracking the bank suspect, cameras were providing leads in some of the other downtown crimes, including helping to catch two suspects in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Dwight Taylor at a barbershop on West Saratoga Street on Saturday afternoon.

"If people want to come downtown and commit acts of violence, you're going to get caught, and you're going to get caught quickly," Guglielmi said at a news conference Monday.

On Sunday, surveillance cameras in a business also captured clear images of two suspects who investigators believed committed as many as 10 armed robberies over a span of three hours around downtown and in East and West Baltimore on Sunday morning.

The robberies started after 8:30 a.m. in the 900 block of N. Charles St. and the 900 and 1000 blocks of St. Paul St., in the Mount Vernon area. Robberies also occurred in West Baltimore, in the 1300 block of Presstman, the 2200 block of N. Fulton, and the 2500 block of W. Franklin, as well as East Baltimore in the 2100 block of N. Broadway and the 4900 block of E. Federal St. The last occurred about 10:45 a.m., police said.

The targets included a liquor store and a carryout, as well as two newspaper hawkers for The Baltimore Sun, said Lt. Scott Serio of the citywide robbery unit.

Following a spike in commercial robberies to start the year, police said members of the SWAT team would be checking with city businesses to help them improve their security plans and to answer questions.

The suspects were described as two black males in their 20s, of medium height. One was light-skinned, with short black hair and visible acne on his face. The other was of medium complexion, with gold upper front teeth and tattoos on both forearms. They were believed to be driving a green, four-door Buick LeSabre. Anyone with information about the robberies was asked to call the citywide robbery unit at 410-366-6341.

Meanwhile, a bump in homicides so far in 2011 is due in part to an increase in the number of fatal stabbings, with 12 people killed in stabbings compared with six at this time last year, according to statistics maintained by The Sun.

The most recent occurred just before midnight Sunday, when officers were called to the 3800 block of S. Hanover St. and found a man with multiple stab or sharp-force wounds to his neck and torso. The victim died at Harbor Hospital about 12:45 a.m. Monday.

Police said they were having trouble identifying him, a Hispanic male, and were asking for the public's help.

Detectives were also investigating a fatal shooting in East Baltimore's Broadway East neighborhood in which an unidentified man was found unconscious in a gray vehicle in the 1700 block of Crystal Ave. about 1:30 a.m. Monday.

Anyone with information on either case was asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.

Baltimore Sun reporter Yeganeh June Torbati contributed to this article



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