Man charged in slaying of Lutherville student


Baltimore police have arrested a man in the slaying of a 19-year-old Lutherville college student, unraveling an apparent mysterious shooting that investigators now believe was triggered by an argument over crack cocaine.

The scenario offered by police has startled Patrick Benjamin Cawley's family, who at first thought their son was killed July 14 in the random violence that seems all too common in some parts of Baltimore.

Yesterday, Mr. Cawley's father, James Cawley, said he was "shocked and stunned" to learn that not only had his son used cocaine, but apparently was buying drugs in the city and selling them in his suburban neighborhood.

"We had no know idea whatsoever that Pat would be involved in anything like this," the elder Mr. Cawley said.

"We are angry and disappointed that he would put himself in this kind of at-risk situation."

But the father -- who teaches a public health course at George Washington University -- said that his son's activities should not minimize the impact of the slaying.

"Lots of young people engage in all sorts of risky behavior and don't get shot," Mr. Cawley said. "He was involved in risky behavior, but he didn't deserve to get killed."

Police said they arrested William Stewart Jr., 20, of the 1100 block of Gleneagle Road in Northeast Baltimore on Thursday morning at a friend's house in Edgewood.

He was questioned all day and charged with first-degree murder that night.

The day he was killed, Mr. Cawley left his parents' Lutherville home about 7:30 p.m. A family member saw him driving on Westbury Road, on his way to a hardware store where his father said he was to buy a carpet-cutting tool for his summer job.

He was found about 10:55 p.m. by residents near the corner of Clearspring and Orkney roads, shot in the chest and unconscious behind the wheel of his gray 1987 Volkswagen Jetta.

He died about an hour later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Police had suspected some sort of drug involvement from the onset because the neighborhood where he was shot is known for its brisk crack cocaine trade. Authorities said they pieced together what happened by talking to friends and work associates.

Two police sources close to the investigation said detectives learned that the victim had been buying drugs from the suspect and reselling them in Lutherville.

The night of the slaying, the sources said the victim and suspect argued over drugs, and Mr. Cawley took out a knife. The suspect knocked the knife out of Mr. Cawley's hand, then Mr. Cawley got into his car.

Police said he was shot as he pulled away, and drove about two blocks before crashing.

The state medical examiner's office said Tuesday that Mr. Cawley had ingested "a significant amount" of cocaine a few hours before he was killed.

More than 1,000 people attended the funeral. Most of them were friends from Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, which he attended, and classmates from Loyola High School, from which he graduated in 1993.

Mr. Cawley's college roommate, Dave Frank, said yesterday that he did not believe the police account. "This is pretty crazy," he said. "It's not something I know about."

The roommate said he noticed nothing unusual about his friend during the school year, but said the two didn't see each other often during the summer break because of conflicting work schedules.

In addition to the carpet installation business, Mr. Cawley worked one day a week as a waiter at the Towson Golf and Country Club.

Mr. Cawley was killed the same day that his 19-year-old stepsister, Pattie Gerhardt, received a letter from Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, for which she did volunteer work.

On Thursday, she testified that "handguns are nothing but a menace to all of us" at a public hearing sponsored by Gov. Parris N. Glendening on gun control legislation.

Yesterday, Mr. Cawley warned other parents to "be careful" and "watch your children." He said his son's drug use probably was a recent problem that started after school ended for the summer.

"First we find out that Pat was shot and killed," he said. "Then we find it's a drug-related thing. It just doubles the hurt."

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