Several city leaders expressed concern that the killings would make it even harder to get residents to report crimes to police - something the city has been encouraging as part of the anti-drug Baltimore Believe campaign.

"It rocks the confidence of those good citizens," said Councilwoman Rochelle "Rikki" Spector.

Added Council President Sheila Dixon, "I do not want to see Baltimore under siege by some petty drug dealers."

Galvanizing the city

Norris expressed hope that the tragedy would galvanize the city in its fight against crime, convincing residents more than ever that they have to take back their city. He did warn people against confronting criminals directly, as neighbors said the Dawsons had done. He suggested they call police or pass along tips through intermediaries such as elected officials.

"This is going to be, I hope, a tipping point in this city," Norris said

Relatives of the Dawsons complained yesterday that police did not do enough to protect the family. John Robert Harrington Jr., Angela Dawson's brother, disputed reports that officials offered to relocate the family through a witness protection program.

"The police weren't trying to help the way they're claiming," Harrington said.

Prosecutors and Norris said the relocation offer was made, but the Dawsons declined, saying they did not want to be run out of their home by drug dealers. Norris also said police made several visits to the family's home after the Oct. 3 fire, ignited by two Molotov cocktails thrown through first-floor windows. While the community's anger is understandable, Norris said, that anger should be directed at those responsible for the crime, not at the government.

"It's about time we got the outrage focused in the right direction," he said.

All morning long and into the afternoon in the East Baltimore neighborhood of Oliver, people walked up to the charred house to see where the family had died. Many brought teddy bears as mementos. The Eden Street entrance to the house had become a shrine to the Dawson family. More than 50 teddy bears of all sizes covered the steps, along with balloons and a poster that read: "Think Of The Children And Please!!! Stop The Madness."

Jeffrey Easton brought an empty water jug, dropped in $5 and some change, then left the jug near the shrine for donations. Plans were to collect donations throughout the weekend.

"I'm glad I was able to give something," said Easton, who lives nearby on Central Avenue.

Relatives of the Dawsons were working yesterday to establish a fund named in memory of Angela Dawson - The Angel Family Fund - at Bank of America. They were also making funeral arrangements at March Funeral Home.

School grieves

At Dr. Bernard Harris Sr. Elementary School, pupils continued coping with the loss of third-graders Kevin and Keith Dawson and fifth-graders Juan Ortiz and Carnell Dawson Jr. Counselors talked to about a dozen pupils individually yesterday. Several parents requested counseling for their children.

"Everybody is feeling this," Principal Lucretia Coates said, describing emotions that went beyond the pain and sadness of losing four pupils.

"I'm outraged," she said. "To think that these children lost their lives because of retaliation from drug dealers. I think this community should be outraged and should not suffer in silence or in fear."

Sun staff writers Dick Irwin, M. Dion Thompson and Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this article.