Family says slain man was trying to sell Lexus Catonsville resident who placed ad is fatally shot


A businessman who was fatally shot Wednesday afternoon near Bolton Hill might have been trying to sell his white Lexus, his family told police.

The family of William E. Gilbert, 51, expressed concern about him traveling around Baltimore to meet prospective buyers.

But homicide detectives stressed yesterday that they have no concrete leads or names of people who might have been interested in the $40,000 four-door car with distinctive vanity plates "GOFORIT" that Gilbert had advertised this week in the City Paper.

Detective Michael Glenn of the homicide unit said the family's concerns are being investigated.

Gilbert, who lived in an upscale Catonsville neighborhood, was a member of a country club and grew up in South Baltimore, was found dead from six shots behind an apartment complex in the 300 block of Dolphin St., one block from a state office complex.

His body was found dressed in khaki pants, brown loafers and a green shirt, lying just feet from his unlocked car parked in an alley. The keys were in the ignition and his wallet, complete with money and credit cards, was in his back pocket.

Detective Kenneth J. Welsh Jr. of the homicide unit said Gilbert was shot three times in the head and body. He said the shooters then ran around a block, returned and shot him three more times.

Family members could not be reached yesterday, and colleagues at Gilbert's food brokerage company, Gilbert Connections near South Charles Street, declined to comment. The front doors to the business were locked. Police said Gilbert had a wife and three daughters.

Welsh said ballistics tests on a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun recovered a block away from the shooting are pending. Police also said Gilbert had a $2 million life insurance policy. But Welsh said police have not conclusively determined why the victim was in the area of the shooting.

If it was a carjacking, "why didn't the suspect take the car?" Welsh asked, noting a window of opportunity after the first three shots. He said security guards from the state building were running toward the scene as the second round of gunfire erupted.

Police said family members told them that Gilbert had been trying to sell the Lexus and that they were apprehensive about him meeting prospective buyers in various city neighborhoods.

But they could offer no names, and police said they don't know if that was what Gilbert was doing when he got shot.

Gilbert was selling the Lexus with gray leather seats and chrome wheels for $15,900 and said it "runs great -- looks great," in the ad in this week's City Paper.

Glenn said the family's theory sounds "plausible" but stressed investigators have yet to independently confirm it. "We're still keeping an open mind," he said.

Pub Date: 6/26/98

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