Janitor charged in shooting at city elementary school Co-worker uninjured during argument


A custodian at a city elementary school is accused of shooting at a co-worker during an argument about work while school was in session yesterday, police said.

The bullet struck the floor of a "slop room" at Mount Royal Elementary School and did not injure anyone, police said. They said the "slop room" is in a second-floor alcove of the school and is not anywhere near classrooms.

Police said the custodian charged in the shooting, Anthony J. Hopkins, 41, had been arrested 10 times and convicted twice since he was hired by the Baltimore school system in 1981.

Hopkins was working for the school system despite an effort by school police to conduct criminal background checks on employees and fire those with criminal records.

Yesterday's shooting occurred about 11: 50 a.m. in a janitor's office.

Police said the suspect ran out of the school in the 100 block of McMechen St. and surrendered two hours later at a lawyer's office.

Police said they recovered a handgun -- they could not immediately say what type or caliber -- at a house belonging to the suspect's relatives.

Sgt. Sandra Potts of the school police said Hopkins was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of a deadly weapon on school property. He was being held at the Central Booking and Intake Center yesterday awaiting a bail hearing.

Since he was hired in 1981, Hopkins has been charged with crimes ranging from assault and resisting arrest to drug possession with intent to distribute, according to court records.

Dispositions of many of the cases were not available yesterday, but court records show he was convicted in 1985 of drug possession and in 1987 of assault. He received a 30-day suspended sentence in each case.

The city school system has been conducting criminal background checks on its employees since 1986, with an eye toward firing those convicted of crimes, said spokeswoman Vanessa Pyatt.

But Hopkins is the second employee with a criminal conviction to surface through media attention since January.

Norris Davis was fired as a Northern High School counselor in January when school officials learned he had been convicted twice of theft before he was hired in 1993. He was dismissed even though officials knew of his record when he was hired.

School Police Chief Leonard Hamm said his officers are working through the system's 17,000 employees, concentrating on new hires. They have checked criminal records of everyone hired since 1990, he said.

"We hadn't gotten to [Hopkins] yet," the chief said.

The shooting prompted a concentrated response from city and school police to the three-story red-brick building near Maryland Institute, College of Art.

"Nobody was hit," said Lt. Antonio Rodriguez of the city police. "They just got into some type of argument and one fired a round at the other."

Students were not evacuated, police said.

Police identified the custodian who was shot at as Anthony Pulley, 39. They said the two apparently were arguing about work, possibly job performance.

"They normally get along," Potts said, referring to the police report and interview with the victim. "They usually joke. Maybe it was too hot."

Pub Date: 5/20/98

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