Man's death puts murder toll at 300 No suspects found in slaying of boy, 10


A Govans man who was shot in the head near his home Saturday became the 300th homicide victim in Baltimore this year.

Police reported no arrests yesterday in that killing, or two others since Thursday -- including that of 10-year-old Tauris Johnson, who was caught in the cross-fire of a gunbattle in his Eastside neighborhood.

Victim No. 300, Earl Wiggins, was shot in the back yard of a vacant house in the 500 block of Beaumont Ave., a short distance from his own home between 2:30 and 3:30 Saturday afternoon, a city homicide detective said.

Mr. Wiggins, 37, died at 10:48 p.m. Saturday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Police said that he was shot by an unknown person and that the motive was undetermined.

At this time last year, 277 people had been slain in the city. By year's end, the toll was a record 335 -- a record that homicide detectives fear will be exceeded in 1993 by a dozen or more if the pace of violent death continues.

The 299th homicide victim, named by police yesterday, was 19-year-old Jonathan Tate, of the 4900 block of Denmore Ave. in Northwest Baltimore.

Police said Mr. Tate may have been breaking into a house in the 4800 block of Park Heights Ave. early Friday when he was shot to death, perhaps by an occupant of the dwelling. Police questioned nearly a dozen people who were in the house at the time, but no one was charged and the killing remained under investigation yesterday.

Young Tauris was Victim No. 298 -- shot about 6 p.m. Thursday during a gunbattle that erupted on the sidewalk near the intersection of Oliver and Regester streets between a pedestrian and the occupants of a black Ford Escort.

Up and down those streets yesterday, residents of the neighborhood expressed fear and anger over the slaying. And at least one man blamed himself and his neighbors for Tauris' death as much the gunmen.

They shared the blame in allowing drug dealers and other criminals to gain a foothold in their neighborhood, said Mark Miller, an Oliver Street resident.

"The gun didn't kill that boy," he said. "The drugs didn't kill that boy. We killed that boy because we allow that to go on. I feel responsible."

Debbie Boyd, standing in the doorway of her Oliver Street home, recalled seeing Tauris and two neighborhood boys tossing a football when she got home from work Thursday night.

Minutes later, Ms. Boyd said, she heard the first gunshot. That was followed by a pause, and then a stream of about eight shots.

She realized it was Tauris when she recognized his cap.

The woman ran to Tauris, who she said was still alive.

"I just sat there and tried to tell him everything would be OK."

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