A Northeast Baltimore man was charged yesterday with murdering two men, one of whom was gunned down as he returned home from the other victim's funeral, city police reported.
The suspect, John Earl Artis, 22, also known by the street name "Frank Nitti," was arrested at his home yesterday morning in the 5900 block of St. Regis Road. A police spokesman said two large-caliber handguns were recovered from the house, located in the Frankford neighborhood.
Police said Mr. Artis drew his nickname from Chicago mobster Frank Nitti, who was the enforcer in Al Capone's mob.
Mr. Artis was charged with the July 10 murder of Michael Tillman, 20, who was shot numerous times as he sat on the front steps of a rowhouse in the 500 block of Gold St., and with the killing five days later of Dorian Lamont Brown, 25, who was shot in Pimlico shortly after serving as a pallbearer for Mr. Tillman.
Mr. Brown was Mr. Tillman's uncle, police said.
The suspect knew both the victims and had himself attended Mr. Tillman's funeral, as evidenced by his signature in the guest book, police said.
But it wasn't immediately known why he would have wanted to kill the two men, said Doug Price, a city police spokesman.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that the slayings were drug-related.
Mr. Brown, his wife and a friend had just left Mr. Tillman's funeral at New Fellowship Christian Community Church on Park Heights Avenue when a gunman crept up from behind as they walked in an alley off the 3200 block of Woodland Ave.
Police said the killer fired a 9 mm bullet into Mr. Brown's head. As he lay in the cobblestone alley, the gunman fired another bullet into his head, police said.
Mr. Brown's male friend, whose identity is being withheld by police, ran off, and the gunman chased him, firing two shots, police said. Both shots missed.
Police charged Mr. Artis with two counts of first-degree murder and numerous handgun violations. He was being held at the Central District lockup last night awaiting a bail hearing.
Police said Mr. Artis has an extensive arrest record that includes assault with intent to murder and handgun violations.
In addition to murder, police also charged Mr. Artis yesterday with wounding two other people in a June 20 shooting in the 5000 block of Park Heights Ave.
In that incident, a gunman fired into a crowd after someone refused to relinquish a pay phone, said homicide Detectives Donald Ossmus and Richard Petrey.
Police said the two people shot in the pay phone incident were innocent bystanders. Both suffered minor wounds.