Disc jockey dies when handgun accidentally fires


A WMIX-FM disc jockey whose regular nighttime program featured listeners' dedications of love songs was killed yesterday when a gun he was holding accidentally fired, the Baltimore police said.

Mark Douglas Edmondson, 24, died of a single gunshot wound to the neck just before 7 a.m. in his basement apartment in the 6900 block of Harford Road, said Dennis S. Hill, a police spokesman.

Mr. Hill said Mr. Edmondson's accidental shooting was witnessed by a childhood friend, Robert Miller, a University of Maryland student who had been visiting at the time.

Detectives said the shooting occurred as Mr. Edmondson and Mr. Miller were playing computer games and drinking from a quart bottle of bourbon in which only "an inch or two" remained.

At one point, Mr. Edmondson picked up the loaded 9mm Beretta, placed it to his throat and said jokingly, "I wonder if there is life after death," according to Mr. Hill.

He then put the weapon down and continued drinking for another half-hour before again placing the gun to his throat and repeating his earlier jest, according to the police spokesman.

It was at this point, investigators said, that Mr. Edmondson apparently tried to uncock the gun and it accidentally went off. The bullet struck him in the left side of the neck just below the jaw.

Investigators said that an examination of the gun indicated that the gun may have misfired because of a malfunction, Mr. Hill said.

Robert J. Lind, vice president of Capitol Broadcasting Co., which operates WMIX-FM, said news of the shooting upset members of the radio station's staff so much that he brought in a counselor to help them.

"We're still pretty shook up," Mr. Lind said. "Most of the staff has been here since the station started up [in December 1987]. Mark arrived about a year later. So they were all pretty close."

The victim's father, Kenneth E. Edmondson, said his son kept a weapon in the apartment because of the late hours he worked at the radio station and because he liked guns.

Mark Edmondson began his broadcasting career at radio station WMDM in California, St. Mary's County, while attending Leonardtown High School, according to his father.

Mr. Lind said Mr. Edmondson had been fairly young to have been given the opportunity to move up to a larger station such as WMIX. "He was good, a natural talent on the air," he said.

He had been given the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. show, which featured love songs and dedications to listeners.

"He was a real sensitive guy, with a voice that was natural for the show," Mr. Lind said. "He would listen to people and help them prepare their requests. He would sometimes try to help them with their problems."

Greg Dunkin, the station's program director, said that Mr. Edmondson's last show, which ended at 2 a.m. yesterday, had been particularly good.

"He was very 'up.' He was a really hard-working guy who cared for his show and his listeners," Mr. Dunkin said.

"He went to great lengths for people who called him."

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