A 32-year-old East Baltimore man was arrested yesterday for a row house firebombing that killed two children in what police believe was retaliation for a drug dispute.
Renford Augustus Martin, 32, of the 2200 block of Mura Street, was charged with murder and arson for allegedly hurling a lighted 1-gallon container of gasoline into a house at 2046 E. Federal St. on Jan. 3, said homicide Detective Kevin Davis. Police are still seeking the identity of a second man, who was driving the car from which the firebomb was thrown.
Mr. Martin, an unemployed Jamaican national whose immigration status is unclear, allegedly was seeking revenge against a man who was visiting the house, Detective Davis said. "The residents had nothing to do with this," Detective Davis said. "We could have had 10 or 12 people go up in that house."
Seven adults and four children were in the house when the Molotov cocktail was thrown through a first-floor window. Several people were asleep.
Two others, Garnette and Tammy Moore, had just left the house to go to a Chinese restaurant.
When they returned, the three-story row house was engulfed in flames.
Garnette Moore's two children, Reva Shalita Moore, 5, and Anthony Jamar Moore, 4, died in the two-alarm blaze.
Another occupant, Leroy Bess Jr., 36, was critically injured when he fell or jumped from the window of the third-floor bedroom where the two children died. He was in fair condition yesterday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Police raided Mr. Martin's house on Mura Street early yesterday, allegedly discovering drugs and two guns inside. They found Mr. Martin, who is believed to have entered the United States through Miami in 1988, at a house in the 4900 block of Todd Avenue about 7:30 a.m.
He was taken to the Eastern District lockup last night, where he was being held without bond pending a bail review hearing today.
Two other Jamaicans, Lennroy Augustus Martin, 30, and Duane Dundas, 20, both believed to be illegal aliens, were arrested at the Mura Street house and charged with narcotics and weapons violations, Detective Davis said.
Detective Davis said he is still trying to piece together the details of what led up to the firebombing, though he believes it revolves around payment for drugs.
Fire officials say the use of firebombs to settle drug disputes has become commonplace in recent years.
"We know there was a dispute," he said. "Who owed who is unclear."