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News Maryland Baltimore County Towson

One hurt as shots fired into late-night bar crowd in Towson

A fight in downtown Towson early Sunday morning ended when five shots were fired from a handgun into a crowd of people near the Charles Village Pub, one striking a man in the hand, according to Baltimore County police.

Francis Minsung Kang, 26, of the first block of Brook Farm Court in Cockeysville was arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder and other offenses in the shooting — the third in the county seat and the second in its downtown bar district in recent months.

A huge, rowdy crowd gathered for a charity event at the Recher Theatre in September and became out of control for more than two hours along York Road, leading to one person being shot and seven being arrested — including three charged with assaulting officers.

That melee of some 2,500 people had come about a month after police officials met with business leaders and local officials to discuss crowd control in the area, and prompted more calls for action despite being referred to as an isolated incident by many officials.

On Nov. 25, Alsawab Sawab, 27, was fatally shot at his apartment building in the 7000 block of Lachlan Circle in what police said was a targeted attack.

On Sunday, officers on patrol in the popular bar district heard the shots coming from the direction of the first block of W. Chesapeake Ave. about 2:05 a.m. and responded immediately, stopping a truck fleeing the scene soon afterward, police said Sunday afternoon, when they announced the shooting had occurred.

An investigation by the county's violent crimes unit showed a fight had broken out at the scene between Kang and at least two other people after Kang allegedly threw a Gatorade bottle at a woman, police said. As Kang was leaving the scene in the truck, he allegedly fired the handgun into the crowd, police said.

Lt. Rob McCullough, a police spokesman, said the condition of the man shot in the hand was unknown Sunday evening, but his injury was a graze wound and considered minor.

In addition to attempted first-degree murder, Kang has also been charged with first-degree assault, using a handgun while committing a felony, two counts of second-degree assault and malicious destruction of property, according to police and court records.

Kang's previous record consisted of a marijuana possession charge in Ocean City in 2005, for which he received probation before judgment, and a citation for alcohol possession by a minor in 2005 that was not prosecuted.

He was being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center.

After the September shooting, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz blamed the Recher Theatre, which was accused of having oversold the Theta Mu Mu event and then locking its doors shortly after 11 p.m., causing unrest among those still on the street.

Kamenetz was quoted at the time as saying liquor-license holders "can't just assume that their responsibility ends at their doorway," and a hearing was scheduled to review the Recher's liquor license.

But in November, the Recher reached a deal with county officials that absolved the business of blame in the disturbance but required it to stop working with outside promoters, to more strictly control its ticket sales and to inform the county of its weekly schedule.

McCullough said the rapid response by police Sunday leading to Kang's arrest was possible in part because of increased patrols in the area in recent months at the time bars are letting out.

He also said special holiday deployments — which the county uses to increase the number of officers in and around shopping areas between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day — have also boosted the police presence in downtown Towson.

Police are "continuing to monitor" the bars along York Road, he said.

"There are frequent meetings between the police and the business community in that area," he said.

krector@baltsun.com

twitter.com/rectorsun

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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