Although Tauris Johnson's killer probably lives in the neighborhood and at least a half-dozen people saw him gun down the 10-year-old boy, no one has been volunteering information to detectives, Baltimore police said yesterday.
"We haven't really received any phone calls at all. You'd think with the murder of a 10-year-old boy, the phones would be ringing off the hook," said homicide Detective Christopher Graul, the lead investigator in the case.
Detective Graul said that police have developed a few leads "by knocking on a lot of doors" but that an arrest isn't likely until witnesses provide more details.
"We need some help from people. This is a little boy who didn't deserve to be cut down like that. He wasn't part of the violence and the drug dealing that goes on," Detective Graul said. The homicide unit -- burdened with 300 slayings this year -- often has trouble finding willing witnesses. Residents in crime-torn areas are often afraid to get involved, and Tauris' East Baltimore neighborhood seems to be no exception.
About a half-dozen people were nearby when Tauris was caught in the cross-fire during a gunbattle. Police investigators said it is likely that Tauris' killer lives in the neighborhood or nearby and that the drive-by shooting might have been sparked by a dispute over drug turf.
Tauris was playing football outside his home in the 1700 block of E. Oliver St. about 5:30 p.m. last Thursday when a black compact car, possibly a Ford Escort, came racing south down North Regester Street, which is one-way northbound.
At Regester Street and Crystal Avenue, one of three men in the car began firing out the window at a young man on the sidewalk, police said.
The intended victim was not hit and returned fire with a handgun. Witnesses said he began firing at the car as it sped off down the one-way street with the gunman inside still shooting, police said.
The car turned right onto Llewelyn Avenue and escaped. Neighborhood residents scattered and took cover during the barrage of gunshots, but Tauris, standing at the northwest corner of East Oliver and Regester streets, was struck in the head. He died three hours later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Police recovered eight shell casings from a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun. One of the bullets struck the front door of a home in the 1700 block of E. Oliver St., police said.
Investigators haven't determined which gunman shot Tauris. The black car was described as having tinted windows, a roof rack and two silver-colored strips along its sides.
Anyone with any information about the shooting is asked to call the homicide unit at 396-2100.