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Man shot on Greenmount Avenue was inmate on work-release

An inmate nearing the end of his prison sentence for gun possession and heading to a job as part of a work-release program was shot four times Friday morning outside a state prison complex on Baltimore's Greenmount Avenue, according to authorities.

The victim, who turned 25 on Thursday, was attacked while standing at bus stop outside the pre-release center between East Eager and East Madison streets, police said. His condition was not immediately available, but police said it appeared he would survive.

A spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said an investigation is under way to determine whether the victim, identified as Donte R. Thomas, was targeted because of his past.

"Our internal investigation will looking into his background," said the spokesman, Rick Binetti. "They're checking records of his recent communications to see if there is any connection to anyone on the outside."

The shooting occurred about 5:30 a.m. on the busy stretch of road that leads into downtown and is often used by commuters avoiding the Jones Falls Expressway.

Police said the victim was at the bus stop when a man "approached him and started shooting." City police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thomas was hit twice in the upper body and twice in an arm. Detectives had not made any arrests and knew of no motive. The victim was being treated at an undisclosed hospital.

The pre-release center in the 900 block of Greenmount Ave. is part of the state prison complex that includes the booking center and the city jail, as well as a state complex that is now used mostly for detainees being held on federal charges and awaiting trial.

Inmates who are in the pre-release center are generally scheduled to be released within 18 months to a year, and it's designed to transition prisoners back into society. Many are allowed to leave for outside jobs, and return to the center at night.

Thomas was arrested on Nov. 13, 2005, after police said he ran from where police were confronting a crowd in the 2100 block of Division St. in the Druid Heights neighborhood. A police report says that Thomas, wearing a gray hooded sweat shirt and blue jeans, was holding his waist-band in a suspicious way as he ran into a house on the same block.

The officer said in his report that he caught up to the man in the kitchen and found a .22 caliber Ruger handgun on top of a bucket. Police said the owner of the rowhouse had no connection to Thomas.

Thomas pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to a handgun charge on April 18, 2006, and was sentenced to five years in prison, with all but two months suspended. He was put on three years' probation.

But court records show that Thomas was convicted in May 2008 of violating the terms of his release and Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams sent him back to prison for his full term. That sentence started when he was arrested on the probation violation in November 2007.

Binetti said Thomas' release date had not yet been finalized but that it was close.

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