Baltimore police have arrested a 24-year-old man in the fatal stabbing of a Cheesecake Factory employee who was leaving work early Sunday.
Police said Anthony Black, 20, was being picked up by his girlfriend at 2:18 a.m. after work when two men began hitting on his girlfriend, who was sitting in her car in the 400 block of E. Pratt St. near the Inner Harbor.
"That's my girl," Black told the men, according to Baltimore police spokesman Detective Vernon Davis.
One of the men responded by telling him to "calm down, your girl is hot-looking," according to a court charging document. An argument turned into a physical altercation, and police said one of the men, Matthew Darby of Frederick, stabbed Black multiple times in the upper body.
Paramedics took Black to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:49 a.m. Homicide detectives lodged multiple charges against Darby, including first-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and a weapons violation, according to court records and police.
"It's an isolated incident," Davis said.
But the killing echoed in two Inner Harbor restaurants where Black worked as a waiter, toiling day and night, saving money to pay for college. Black had worked full time at Brio Tuscan Grille since the restaurant opened in early 2012. He started a second job working part time at the Cheesecake Factory last week.
Marty Atkinson, general manager of Brio Tuscan Grille, described Black as "an extremely dedicated, hard worker trying to do whatever it took to get back to school."
"Great personality. Full of life. Very charismatic with his tables. He had a lot of regulars who would come and visit him," Atkinson said.
Atkinson said Black had hoped the Cheesecake Factory would offer better part-time hours than the Taco Bell job he had held, Atkinson said. A manager at the Cheesecake Factory directed calls to a corporate spokesperson, who did not return a message Monday.
Brio employees are discussing holding a vigil later this week to remember Black.
"Employees are taking it hard, which is understandable," Atkinson said. "We are in the process of trying to get ahold of his family to offer our condolences and see what we could do."
Orze Killgo, 20, a friend of Black's, said the 20-year-old victim had been working to put himself through college to study engineering or information systems. Black grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Carver Vocational-Technical High School, Killgo said.
"He was a funny guy with absolutely no malice in his heart," said Killgo, who met Black when both worked at the Brio Tuscan Grille. "Anthony was a bright, funny guy. He was just working to save some money, and he was out on his own supporting himself."
He said Black's girlfriend often picked him up from work because parking is difficult in the Inner Harbor.
Police said Darby and his friend were intoxicated when they verbally engaged Black. Detectives believe the other man with Darby tried to defuse the situation, so he was not arrested, Davis said.
Court records show Darby has a lengthy arrest record and has been convicted of drunken driving and marijuana possession. No attorney was listed for Darby, who is being held without bail. A call to his home was not returned. A preliminary hearing is scheduled May 7.
The death was Baltimore's ninth fatal stabbing so far this year compared with a total of 17 in 2012. Homicides using knives are up 200 percent compared with the same time last year.
But overall, crimes involving knives or "edged weapons" are down 12 percent, according to most recent police statistics available. Nonfatal attacks with knives are down 13 percent.