Days after an Odenton man was shot to death in the parking lot of the Hawthorn Neighborhood Center in Columbia, Howard County police have issued an arrest warrant for a Columbia resident.
Police are searching for Willie Marquez Hampton, 21, in the death of Sean Philip Wilson, 25, who was shot once in the chest Saturday at the center in Hickory Ridge village early Saturday.
A small shrine of flowers, teddy bears and ribbons has been placed on the Hawthorn Center property where Wilson died, but his grieving father said shrines cannot bring back his son, who was the father of two small children.
"I'm not really concerned about whether they catch the guy or not," said Roland Wilson, a retired Prince George's County police officer. "All I know is if they find that man and give him the electric chair, it won't bring Sean back."
Wilson will be buried today at Maryland National Memorial Park on U.S. 1 in Laurel after a 10 a.m. wake and funeral services at Queens Chapel United Methodist Church, 7410 Old Muirkirk Road in Beltsville.
Roland Wilson said he and his son often talked about conflict resolution. "As late as last week, we talked about what can happen when you don't walk away from conflicts," he said.
"I told him five days before he was killed, 'Better to be right than dead right.' "
But when his son went to the party in Columbia to pick up the friend of a cousin, he got into an argument with a man in the parking lot around 12: 15 a.m., police said.
Investigators are not sure what the argument was about, said Sgt. Steven Keller, a police spokesman.
"We have heard that Wilson found the man leaning against or sitting on his car," Keller said. "We've also heard the argument was about a girl, drugs and drug territory. We won't know for sure until we apprehend the suspect."
Police are also looking for the gun used in the shooting.
The Hawthorn Center was rented to Anethra Sloan of the 5800 block of Stevens Forest Road in Columbia's Oakland Mills village, said Hickory Ridge village manager Jane Parrish.
Sloan could not be reached for comment.
Parrish said Sloan rented the center for $225 for a dance party for 100 people ages 18 to 25. The rental contract stipulated that the party would end at 1 a.m. and that no alcohol would be allowed.
Despite the rule forbidding alcohol, empty bottles of brandy and malt liquor were found in the bathroom and in the parking lot after the shooting, Parrish said.
Mary McCahill, whose house is next to the center's property, said she found an empty champagne bottle in her yard the morning after the party.
Keller said police visited the center three times Friday night -- at 8 p.m. before the party began, about 10 p.m. after neighbors complained of loud music, and a routine check before the shooting.
McCahill said that the neighborhood has never had any trouble PTC with partygoers who attend the Hawthorn Center's gatherings, but that the center's rental procedure should be reviewed.
"I think they need to monitor the numbers of people who come here for parties," said McCahill, who has lived in Hickory Ridge more than 17 years. "There should be something in the contract that says if the police come more than twice in a night, the party is canceled, and there is no refund."
Mike Rethman, chairman of the Columbia Association board, said Wilson's death likely will dictate a review of what the association and village boards can do to prevent similar incidents at neighborhood centers.
"The problem is that the centers are rented," Rethman said, "and we can't say, 'We don't like your group' or 'We'll only rent to your group.'
"Unless we can find some objective criteria for renting these spaces, it's difficult to decide who should be there."
Neither Rethman nor Parrish could give detailed information about the group at the center the night of the slaying.
"People in Columbia are shocked by this murder, and that's a normal, healthy response," Rethman said. "But we can't say that we're stuck with this [crime] because we live between Baltimore and Washington."
Pub Date: 12/26/96