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Roundup of violent gang completed

THE BALTIMORE SUN

City police rounded up the remaining members of a violent gang tied to a spree involving a slaying, kidnappings and armed robberies after a high-speed chase along Northern Parkway yesterday morning.

Andre Edwin Allen, 34, who had been sought by local and federal authorities since Tuesday, was arrested at gunpoint along with another suspect when they ran from their car after it crashed head-on into a van while police were pursuing it.

Mr. Allen, who lives in the 3400 block of Wabash Ave., is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Pearl Elizabeth Moffett, 72, who was shot during a robbery in the parking lot of a Waverly bank on June 9.

The slaying was one of 14 crimes investigators have attributed to the gang, which they say Mr. Allen headed. There was an armed robbery in February, one in March and another in April, but the other 11 crimes were committed this month, including the abduction of a North Baltimore family.

"This is more than just a murder," said Detective Darryl Massey, the lead homicide investigator working the case. "It's a magnitude of numerous felony acts where a lot of people have dealt with a lot of emotional trauma, from being violated, kidnapped at gunpoint and threatened."

Investigators said they had a tough time cracking the case because of the indiscriminate nature of the crimes. The robberies occurred in crime-ridden neighborhoods of East and West Baltimore, quiet streets in Oakenshawe, downtown parking lots and Charles Village townhouses. "Initially, we tried to compile a profile of the victim," said Detective Massey, who said he has had two hours of sleep since Saturday. "Now we find out it's everybody -- anybody who appears to have at least a dollar on them."

Police said the gang was particularly active between June 2 and June 9, when seven armed robberies and the slaying occurred.

On June 5, police said, members committed a robbery on the city's Westside, then five hours later held up another person in Charles Village. The next day, they robbed two people, in Charles Village and Barclay, two blocks and 15 minutes apart, police said.

"It was just terrifying, I'll tell you that," said Leroy Oliver, 62, who works at AllRight parking in the 300 block of Guilford Ave., which was robbed in February. "It was a bad experience."

He said a man wearing a woman's wig pulled up in a car matching the one involved in the chase yesterday, pointed a gun at him and took $89 and a fistful of quarters from his pocket.

"I dropped a couple of them, but he didn't pick them up," Mr. Oliver said. "That's what I used to call the police."

Investigators got their first break in the case Tuesday, when they arrested Danny Paul McGee, 39, of Parkville and charged him with murder in the death of Mrs. Moffett, his aunt. A judge ordered him held without bail Wednesday.

Although he wasn't at the crime scene, police contend that Mr. McGee set his aunt up by giving Mr. Allen "essential" information about his aunt's banking schedule. Mr. Allen was charged in a warrant Tuesday with trying to rob Mrs. Moffett of $1,500 and shooting her when she struggled.

Yesterday, police said, Mr. Allen and other gang member held up a Signet Bank at the Garrison Forest Shopping Center on Reisterstown Road in Baltimore County. Police said two armed men walked into the bank about 10 a.m., leaped over the counter and demanded money.

They jumped into a red Chevrolet Lumina, which police said had been stolen in a Baltimore carjacking Wednesday, but abandoned it when a dye pack exploded. The suspect then got into a stolen Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, drove to Liberty Road and headed south.

A Baltimore County police officer recognized the car from a witness' description and followed it to Northern Parkway and into the city, where Baltimore officers joined in.

After several miles, police said, the driver apparently realized that he was being followed and sped up. A high-speed chase over several blocks ensued, ending when the car crashed into the van at Bellona Avenue. At least two people in the van were hospitalized with minor injuries.

Police caught both suspects about 50 feet away. Mr. Allen and a man who was not immediately identified were treated at Sinai Hospital for minor injuries after being arrested but before being questioned at the homicide unit.

Agent Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a city police spokesman, said money splashed with red dye and at least two handguns were found in the car. Authorities planned to test the weapons to determine whether one was used in the Moffett slaying.

"Mr. Allen posed a clear and evident danger to the citizens of Baltimore," Agent Weinhold said. "We were eager to get him off the street."

Investigators think they have the other two gang members -- besides Mr. Allen, Mr. McGee and the unidentified man -- in custody.

Tuesday, they arrested Paul Matthews, 31, of the 1500 block of N. Chapel St. He is charged with forcing a North Baltimore family -- including a 1-year-old child -- to an automated teller machine, where the man was ordered to withdraw several hundred dollars. He also is charged in a March 24 armed robbery in East Baltimore.

Monday, police arrested Armstead Thornton, 43, of the 1700 of N. Durham St. and charged him with two armed robberies, at the downtown parking lot in February and on North Charles Street June 2.

Police say they think the gang members are connected through their craving for heroin and cocaine. Since 1990, the alleged leader, Mr. Allen, has faced at least 10 drug charges.

Three years ago, he was found guilty of drug violations after a raid on an East Federal Street rowhouse where cocaine and guns were seized. Court papers describe him as a low-level street dealer who traded in plastic bags of cocaine and drove a blue BMW.

Detective Massey said Mr. McGee met Mr. Allen through the drug trade and that they eventually became good friends. "They both frequented the same drug areas," he said. "That's where the marriage started off. It blossomed from there."

Agent Weinhold said police are not sure what role Mr. McGee had in the gang but that as investigators probe more deeply into the organization, the Parkville resident "is becoming more and more integral to this group. We feel he is becoming a bigger part of the picture."

Friends of Mrs. Moffett were angered to learn that her nephew might have been involved in her slaying. He had been fired two days earlier from the family janitorial business, which operates out of the Moffett home near Memorial Stadium.

Police charged Mr. McGee with giving his aunt's banking schedule to Mr. Allen because they needed money for drugs, Detective Massey said.

The arrests have relieved city residents such as Karen Kaftol, 40, who lives across the street from the family that was abducted in Oakenshawe. She said that family moved within days of the kidnapping.

"We're just upset because this is a quiet neighborhood," Mrs. Kaftol said. "We just don't have this type of stuff going on in this area. I'm here with my child a lot, and that happened in the middle of the day. On a Sunday. They were brazen and stupid."

1. Feb. 8, armed robbery of a parking lot attendent, 300 Guilford Ave. at 5 p.m. (Thornton)

2. March 24, armed robbery, 1200 E. 20th St., person abducted and forced to an ATM machine, where victim had to withdraw money at gunpoint. (Matthews)

3. April 17, armed robbery, 4500 block E. Joppa Road, Baltimore County, at 1:30 p.m.

4. June 2, armed robbery, 1200 N. Charles St., 2 victims, 1-6:30 a.m. (Thornton)

5. June 5, armed robbery, 2400 W. Franklin St. at 1:12 p.m.

6. June 5, armed robbery, 2300 Lovegrove St. at 6:15 p.m.

7. June 6, armed robbery, 2500 N. Calvert St., 10 p.m.

8. June 6, armed robbery, 2300 N. Calvert St., 10:15 p.m.

L 9. June 8, armed robbery, 5402 Park Heights Ave., 10:45 p.m.

10. June 9, robbery and homicide of Pearl Moffett, 72, outside NationsBank in 3300 block of Greenmount Ave., (McGee and Allen)

11. June 16, bank robbery, Hopkins Federal Savings Bank, 100 South Eaton St. Man dressed as women held up bank

12. June 25, armed robbery, 1500 Havenwood Road, 12:20 p.m.

13. June 25, kidnapping, armed robbery, 300 Birkwood Place, 12:30 p.m. Family, including 1-year-old child, abducted from home and forced at gunpoint to ATM machine on St. Paul St, where they robbed of several hundred dollars before being relesaed. (Allen and Matthews)

14. June 29, armed robbery, Signet bank, 10345 Reisterstown Road, 10 a.m.

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