Peace rally to commemorate local killing


After the shooting death of Robert Hall Jr. two years ago, Glenda A. Butler promised herself no one else would die in Warfield Townhouses in Severn.

She has tried to keep that promise by holding a peace rally each year to remember the 21-year-old community groundskeeper, who was shot once in the back of the head in the 1800 block of Richfield Drive after an argument on a basketball court.

Raymond Sommerville, 22, who played guard for Meade High School in the 1990-1991 season, is serving 15 years in prison for killing Mr. Hall.

Tomorrow the third annual rally will begin at 2 p.m. in front of the police substation at 1736 Richfield Drive and feature eight speakers, including officials from the YWCA, YMCA and Western District police and Ms. Butler, the manager of Warfield homes.

"The main thing is to teach that anything can be solved without violence," said Ms. Butler, 36, who has been manager since 1992. "If you can't tolerate that, then find somewhere else to live."

Last year the event attracted about 300 people, or a quarter of the community's residents. The event is geared toward youth and parents and is designed to show that a good time can be had without drugs or violence. Hamburgers and hot dogs will be sold, and games such as two-legged races and water balloon contests will be played. WPGC 95.5 radio station is scheduled to provide music.

Warfield Townhouses, a community of 200 homes, is flanked by Orchards at Severn and Warfield Condominiums, an area that police consider one of the most drug-ridden and violent areas in Anne Arundel County.

Last week county police cited 19 homes in the Warfield Condominiums as nuisance properties because of alleged drug dealing, shootings, robberies and other crimes. The state's attorney has filed a complaint in District Court asking a judge to declare the 19 condominiums a nuisance as the first step to having someone else manage them. The judge has taken the case under advisement. A hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday.

In the midst of trouble nearby, Warfield Townhouse tenants have tried to turn their neighborhood around after the fatal shooting. The community invited the police to set up a three-officer substation in an abandoned crack house last year and organized tenant groups and youth basketball leagues.

The rally is a way for the residents to reaffirm their commitment to clean up the neighborhood.

"This community we think many times is a success story," said Capt. Timothy R. Bowman, commander of Western District police. "It is essentially the community that has made it a better place to live."

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