Authorities have been exploring whether members of the Bloods gang are involved in the killing of an NIH researcher shot outside of his home while returning home from choir practice, recently unsealed court records show, but police said Monday that they do not believe there is a link.
According to a search warrant affidavit unsealed in U.S. District Court, Peter Marvit was shot after parking his car in front of the Belair-Edison home of a witness to a series of robberies committed in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City.
The witness had been threatened in the days before Marvit's shooting, and there had been attempted break-ins at the person's home, records show. A vacant home tagged with gang symbols and searched by police in connection with the robberies was also torched and burned to the ground.
"It is not yet known whether this shooting is related to the intimidating texts and phone calls or attempted break-ins, but it is of concern to investigators in light of the communications indicating that the witness is being watched at his/her home," an FBI agent wrote in a search warrant affidavit filed Sept. 21 and made public last week.
Police said Monday, however, that they do not believe the robberies and Marvit's death are connected. Last week, officials released to the public security camera footage of two males that appear to be running away from the block where Marvit was shot.
"We have possible persons of interest identified based on video surveillance put out last week - potential names of individuals," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. "There's no intelligence at this point associating [those people] to any gang activity or affiliation within that neighborhood. Baltimore Police are still exploring the Marvit case as a possible robbery gone bad."
Authorities in three jurisdictions, along with the FBI, have been investigating a series of commercial armed robberies that occurred this summer. On July 4, a Royal Farms store on Dundalk Avenue was robbed, and Baltimore Police pursued a 2003 Dodge Intrepid described by victims as being the escape vehicle.
One of the suspects was identified as Quindell Rayshawn Gardner, a 21-year-old man who police say is a confirmed member of the Bloods gang. He is being held without bond on armed robbery charges.
The Intrepid was later found in the 600 S. Brice St in Carrollton Ridge. Police said Dion Mitchell Doram, 22, was observed sitting on the steps of a nearby house and was arrested and confessed to two of the robberies, police say. A third suspect was seen carrying a large object wrapped in an American flag near the area where the car was abandoned - police said he fled, but they recovered an American flag blanket that was concealing a 12-gauge Slugster shotgun.
Inside the vehicle, police found a black bandana, gloves, a backpack, and other items that police said were similar to those used or worn during one or more of the commercial armed robberies.
After his arrest, Gardner said his home address was 3446 Auchentoroly Terrace, overlooking Druid Hill Park. Though the house was vacant and in foreclosure, police said they searched and found a lime green bag that matched what was used by robbers in several of the store stick-ups. A few days after Gardner's arrest, the three-story home burned to the ground. News reports at the time said flames could be observed "shooting out" of all three floors.
A report of the fire provided by the fire marshal's office says that the cause was "incendiary," and that there were four distinct places from where the blaze originated.
Police found a witness to the robberies who had been involved in at least one of them, and who testified before a grand jury on Sept. 13, 2012. Between Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, the witness received several threatening text messages. Some read, "I whaching [sic] you ... Just know," "I goin to get U .. I'm goin to grab u, and "Don't worry. I goin to get u."
At one point, the caller told the witness to turn off his or her bathroom lights. Those lights weren't on, but the neighbor's lights were, the affidavit says.
There were then two attempted break-ins at the witness' home, the FBI agent wrote. Another resident of the home once heard thumps near the kitchen, and saw the kitchen window was damaged. On a second occasion, someone unsuccessfully tried to open the kitchen window and broke a figurine on the ledge, records show.
Marvit, a 51-year-old who was involved in city arts education and had no criminal record, was shot to death in the 2800 block of Chesterfield Avenue. He parked down the street from his home, and was shot while exiting his vehicle. While police early on posited that Marvit may have been the victim of a robbery attempt, the affidavit says his wallet and cell phone were not stolen, "suggesting it was not a robbery attempt gone wrong."
But Guglielmi, the police spokesman, said police believe that may still be the motive. "We have no intelligence to link this robbery investigation by the FBI to Dr. Marvit's case," he said.
If the same people making the threats were involved in the shooting, the high-profile attention on the case apparently did not deter them. The next day, a neighbor reported seeing a suspicious person standing in the witness' backyard for a period of time, records show.
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