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3 makeshift firebombs in N.W. Baltimore renew concerns

Three makeshift firebombs were thrown against houses in Northwest Baltimore early Saturday, causing little damage and no injuries but raising concerns that a spate of nine similar attacks in September has been renewed.

Baltimore police are conducting forensic tests on the bottles used in the attacks, including one for Remy Martin brandy and another for Colt 45 malt liquor, but have few clues and no suspects.

"They appear to be attacking random houses," said Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

In one incident, a bottle bounced off a screen; in another, the bottle went through a window but the wick fell off and burned out. In the third, in the 3300 block of Liberty Heights Ave., the bottle crashed through a window and set living room drapes on fire, fire officials said.

Guglielmi said detectives believe Saturday's incidents are connected to those in September.

"These [attacks] are happening at a tough hour," Guglielmi said. "People are sleeping. It's clear the ones last night are most likely from the same person. It's probable that these are all from the same group of people."

Two residents heard cars pull away early Saturday but were unable to provide a description of the vehicles, he said.

Additional officers have been assigned and other security measures implemented in Northwest Baltimore, where most of the attacks have occurred, Guglielmi said. Thus far, there has been no significant damage.

"All we need is for one of these [firebombs] to catch, and a house will go up," Guglielmi said. "We're not taking this lightly."

Police added in a statement: "The potential for serious injury or life-loss from such acts of arson is substantial."

Kim Dorsey's late-night television viewing was disrupted by the blare of fire sirens and the flash of lights, but she only realized later that they were responding to a firebombing just doors away.

"I thought it was a kitchen fire or someone fell asleep on the sofa with a lit cigarette," Dorsey said as she stood on her porch. "I had no idea that someone did that. What's wrong with people?"

In September, city police commanders held a news conference after nine fire bombings occurred in three weeks. Most of the incidents took place in Northwest Baltimore, but others were scattered across the city.

Police said then, and again on Saturday, that the apparently random nature of the crimes is perplexing and makes them difficult to solve. There is no apparent connection between the victims, police say, and the attacks have occurred in different neighborhoods and targeted single-family homes and apartment buildings.

Dorsey's cousin lived on the block of Wesley Avenue where a firebombing occurred Sept. 27.

"I'm paranoid now," said Dorsey, who asked that the location of her house not be disclosed. "I have elderly parents who live in this area. I have a 10-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter. I'm scared to leave them home alone now.

"I'm going to have to do something," she said. "I'm not sure what that is, but something has to be done. Do these people not realize that they could kill somebody? Why hurt other people?"

Saturday's attacks took place between 1 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. Two were within three blocks in the West Arlington neighborhood, and a third occurred about eight blocks to the south.

Police said that in the first incident, reported at 1:13 a.m. in the 4100 block of Belvieu Ave., attackers threw a Colt 45 bottle at a first-floor rear window of a house. Baltimore Fire Capt. Stephen Gibson, the lead investigator, said it bounced off a screen and burned out on the ground.

Nine minutes later, police said, assailants threw a Remy Martin bottle at a first-floor window of an apartment in a house in the 3900 block of Groveland Ave. Gibson said the bottle broke the window and landed inside, but the wick dropped off outside and burned out. The only damage was to the window.

About an hour later, a lighted bottle went through a living room window and set drapes on fire in a house in the 3300 block of Liberty Heights Ave. Gibson said the occupant used a bucket of water to put out the flames and then called 911.

Police said a fourth arson was reported in Northwest Baltimore early Saturday, in the 4500 block of Rogers Ave. Gibson said someone stuffed a rag into a door frame and set it on fire, but investigators do not believe the incident is related to the others.

Baltimore Sun reporter John-John Williams IV contributed to this article.

peter.hermann@baltsun.com

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

Firebombings in Baltimore

Sept. 13 — 3800 block of Leadenhall St.

Sept. 19 — 5600 block of Haddon Ave.

Sept. 22 — 2200 block of Park Ave.

Sept. 22 — 3200 block of Rogers Ave.

Sept. 23 — 2700 block of N. Longwood St.

Sept. 25 — 2400 block of Loyola Northway

Sept. 26 — 400 block of Asquith St.

Sept. 27 — 5300 block of Wesley Ave.

Sept. 28 — 3700 block of Yosemite Ave.

Nov. 12 — 4100 block of Belvieu Ave.

Nov. 12 — 3900 block of Groveland Ave.

Nov. 12 — 3300 block of Liberty Heights Ave.

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