When longtime Winters Lane resident Emma Pennington heard a Baltimore County Police officer had been shot and killed in her neighborhood last Wednesday, she was stunned.
"My goodness, my goodness, that is terrible," she said.
"A police officer shot, that's really taking it to the limit," said Pennington, who has lived in the community for more than 30 years and is founder and president of the Winters Lane Advisory Board. "That's really scary."
Officer Jason Schneider, 36, and other members of the police tactical team were serving a warrant around 5:30 a.m. atresidence in the first block of Roberts Avenue when he was shot, according to Baltimore County Police.
Schneider, a 13-year veteran who had been with the unit since 2004, was shot several times but managed to returned fire during the incident, according to police. Tevon Smith, 25, of the first block of Roberts Avenue, was shot. He died that evening at the Shock Trauma Center.
Taquan Barney, 17, of the first block of Shipley Avenue, has been charged as an adult with firearm violations after being arrested inside the home during the Wednesday morning raid. Rasheed Stanford, 16, of the first block of Roberts Avenue, turned himself in at the Public Safety Building in Towson on Aug. 29. Police said he was wanted in connection with an Aug. 19 shooting in the Winters Lane community that precipitated the police raid last Wednesday.
Pennington, of the Winters Lane Advisory Board, said she had never been afraid to walk by herself until a series of recent shootings: "I have been very content in this neighborhood until recently hearing about these incidents."
In addition to the Aug. 28 shootout, there have been three shootings in the Catonsville area. On Aug. 22, there was a shooting on Robindale Road near Johnnycake Elementary School; another was investigated on Aug. 19 on Shipley Avenue in the Winters Lane neighborhood, and the third, a double shooting on Aug. 17, happened on Edmondson Avenue in the Westgate community near the Baltimore City border.
"It was something that, since I've been here, has not been happening," Pennington said.
While the recent shootings have many Catonsville area residents such as Pennington concerned, Wilkens Police Station Capt. Doug Irwin said the perception of rising crime does not match the facts.
Irwin said the recent shootings were targeted.
"In none of these were the victims chosen at random," Irwin said. "There's more than meets the eye involved in these shootings.
"But gunplay in a high density population area is unacceptable," he said.
Irwin said Winters Lane community residents have complained about drug use and drug sales in the area, particularly at the Banneker Community Center off Main Avenue.
"We have had a significant police presence going back almost to June in that area," Irwin said. "Because we had noticed not necessarily a spike in crime but a spike in perception of criminal activity by folks in that area. The numbers didn't support [the perception of a spike in crime] but when you're dealing with a community you need to respond."
Wilkens Precinct police were not able to provide those statistics.
Irwin said his officers are working on what is referred to as "The Winters Lane Initiative" begun in June in response to the perceived crime spike.
"They [residents] see, generally speaking, organized sports taking place on the bottom fields at the Banneker Center," Irwin said. "And then on the basketball courts, you have younger folks playing basketball and smoking pot.
"In that regard, there is drug use," Irwin said. "The drug use that we saw that was involved with the one shooting [Aug. 19 on Shipley Avenue] was not marijuana."
Irwin did not elaborate on the incident.
Irwin said he would like to change the attitude in the community to one that increases and encourages police involvement, especially when it comes to reporting illegal activity and illicit drugs.
"I would like people to become intolerant of crime," Irwin said. "They should be compelled to act when they see something like that, not just be like, 'Oh they're just kids, they're smoking pot.' "
"Call us. Let us be able to come in there and not let it happen."
Catonsville 'must stay strong'
Ken Steinbach and his son, Scott Steinbach, own Caton Auto Clinic at 6013 Baltimore National Pike, a short distance from Winters Lane.
They said many of their customers come from the neighborhood.
"I've been here since 1975," Ken Steinbach said. "We were here for times when it has been excellent to times when it got touchy to where it went back to excellent.
"We've enjoyed being in this location," he said. "We do not feel this to be an unstable neighborhood. There are a few bad eggs you run into in anything."
Rev. Howard C. Wright, pastor of Grace A.M.E. Church on Winters Lane issued a written statement after the shootout.
"The shooting death of Officer Jason Schneider while in the line of duty was very unfortunate.Our police have tough jobs as they often put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve our communities.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the Schneider family as well as the family of Tevon Smith. It's never easy when any life is lost," Wright said in the statement. "I can only imagine what these families are going through ...
"Our Catonsville community must stay strong and pull together during this difficult time," Wright wrote. "And, we must continue to pray for one another."
Within the neighborhood, Pennington said residents are grieving lives lost while attempting to return to normal.
For her, that meant not letting the incident deter her from continuing her walking routine through the Winters Lane neighborhood.
"If you keep trying, things will get better," she said.
"It's hard to hear about [the shootings], it's sad to hear about that, but the best thing you can do is to go on, go forward."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun