Man found dead in overturned vehicle in Rodgers Forge

A city man was shot to death in his truck Wednesday morning on a quiet, tree-lined street in Rodgers Forge as neighbors prepared to leave for work, police said.

Donte Antonio Stephens, 36, of the 500 block of N. Schroeder St. in West Baltimore, was dead by the time police found him in an overturned silver Dodge on Murdock Road. Witnesses saw a second vehicle speeding away, police said.

Stephens was shot at least once, police said. Homicide detectives are "investigating the possibility that he was targeted," they said in a statement.

A call to Stephens' home was not returned.

Officers were called to the intersection of Murdock and Blenheim roads, north of York Road Plaza, about 5:30 a.m.

The neighborhood of brick rowhouses is close to the city line near Towson. Neighbors said they could not recall such a violent incident in the area. More common complaints include thieves breaking into garages and making off with bicycles.

"This is a very safe neighborhood," said Stu Sirota, president of the Rodgers Forge Community Association. "This not the kind of thing that happens here, although crime can happen anywhere."

County Councilman David Marks agreed such crime is unusual in the community. "Clearly, anytime something like this happens, it's going to be very unsettling," he said.

"There's probably always that chance that you are going to have crime spilling over," he added.

Children played outside Wednesday as parents looked past the yellow police tape that ran across yards and crime scene technicians took photos of damaged vehicles. A police cruiser kept traffic off the street, leaving residents hunkered down for the day.

Officers knocked on doors and asked residents what they had seen.

Dave Ditzel, 53, sipped coffee as he watched from his porch.

He described hearing the Dodge scrape along several cars near his home before it flipped over.

"It was kind of like a dumpster being let down really rough," he said. But it was the gunshots that woke him. He said he was surprised to find that the shooting was near his door.

Lorie Kolesa, a resident of nearby Regester Avenue, said she was on her back porch, which faces the direction of the intersection, when she heard the shots. They echoed through the field behind her home, leaving her confused as to where they came from.

At first, she thought it was neighborhood teenagers, she said.

"They like to shoot rabbits, and I thought, 'What are they doing up shooting rabbits with their airsoft guns at 5:30 in the morning?'"

Soon after, police began to arrive, she said, followed by a state police helicopter.

Police are asking residents who saw anything suspicious or unusual in the area Wednesday morning to call 410-307-2020.

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