Politicians, police official hope neighborhood visit turns up clues to boy's killing Residents say they're wary of officers


With no arrests and few clues in the fatal shooting of 10-year-old Tauris Johnson in East Baltimore two weeks ago, a high-ranking police official and two City Council members plan to visit the neighborhood next week, hoping witnesses will supply them with details in the case.

Maj. Alvin Winkler, the Eastern District commander, said yesterday that when he went to the area where Tauris was killed in shootout on Nov. 4 he learned several details of the shooting, including possible nicknames of the suspects.

"But it wasn't enough to put the finger on anybody," Major Winkler said. "We haven't gotten any arrests there yet.

"Yes, I will go back," he said.

Tauris died soon after he was struck by a stray bullet as he played football on the sidewalk near his home in 1700 block of E. Oliver St. Police said several men on the corner of North Regester and Crystal streets exchanged gunfire with the occupants of a car as it traveled south on Regester Street.

Although there have been no arrests, Lt. Bill Stanton of the Homicide Unit said that the boy's slaying is a "high priority" for investigators and that a squad of detectives is working on the case.

Metro Crime Stoppers has offered a $1,000 reward for information on the shooting.

Major Winkler said he plans to return to the area early next week to "mingle" with residents. He said he may learn something about the shooting, but he also hopes his visit will ease tensions between residents and officers.

During several visits to the community this week, a Sun reporter was told by many residents that witnesses don't trust officers and feel uncomfortable talking to them.

However, some residents said witnesses told them that they would feel more at ease talking to Major Winkler or Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

"I would feel better if they felt comfortable talking to all of my officers," Major Winkler said. "My foot officers shouldn't walk by anybody without stopping to talk to them and introduce themselves."

Council members Carl Stokes and Anthony J. Ambridge, who represent the 2nd District neighborhood where Tauris was killed, said they are well-known in the community. Both said they planned to visit the neighborhood soon to talk to residents.

Mr. Ambridge said he plans to go door to door seeking information on the shooting.

"It's been my experience in the past that they have opened up. I hope they will again," Mr. Ambridge said.

Mr. Stokes said he has been to the community four times since the shooting.

He said that he will put the word out on the streets that, beginning today, anybody can call him with information on the shooting.

"Once I tell one or two people it'll be all over the streets," Mr. Stokes said.

"They know I'll never say their names," he said.

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