Killings rise to 102 for year; City violence leaves 3 dead and 12 wounded; 'This is getting crazy'; At end of April, Baltimore homicides reach June '99 level


Baltimore ends April with as many homicides as it had last year through the first week of June, after a violent weekend in which three people were killed and at least 12 others were wounded.

The killings of two women and one man pushed the number of homicides this year to 102, including 34 this month.

It took until June 8 to reach 102 killings last year, when the city recorded more than 300 homicides for the 10th consecutive year. Officials say the number of homicides is alarming, but it is lower than some years. By this date in 1998, for example, 106 homicides had occurred.

The multiple nonfatal shootings and stabbings were scattered across the city Friday night and yesterday.

Though two of the homicide victims were killed in East Baltimore and Cherry Hill, one of the women was slain in normally quiet Mount Vernon, near the University of Baltimore.

Police said Sharon Quarles, 36, was shot during an apparent domestic dispute with her husband at the Downtown Hotel near North Charles and West Preston streets.

Agent Ragina Cooper, a police spokeswoman, said Quarles was shot once in the groin about 7: 30 p.m. Friday. She was transported to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she died at 2: 10 a.m. yesterday.

Cooper said Quarles' husband, Michael Quarles, 39, was charged with first-degree murder last night. He was being held at the Central Booking and Intake Center, awaiting a bail hearing.

Two hours after Sharon Quarles was shot, police responded to a double shooting in the 2500 block of E. Hoffman St. in East Baltimore.

When they arrived, almost 100 residents were gathered around two men who had been shot repeatedly as they stood near a brick rowhouse in the middle of the block.

Marquise Hayes, 24, of the 1600 block of N. Patterson Park Ave. was shot in the hip and was transported to Shock Trauma. He was in serious but stable condition last night.

Thomas Morton, 25, of the 2600 block of E. Hoffman St. was shot in the torso and pronounced dead at the scene about 9: 30 p.m.

Cooper said the shooting followed a neighborhood dispute.

Morton's killing did not surprise police. Nicknamed Fat Tom, he had been arrested about a dozen times -- on suspicion of crimes ranging from gambling to first-degree murder, according to court documents. He was a suspect in other neighborhood shootings, police said.

Two hours before Morton was killed, an Eastern District officer spotted him walking on the street and predicted to a Sun reporter that Morton's days were numbered, based on the man's previous record and the area's pattern of violence. When the officer saw Morton's body riddled with bullet holes a few hours later, he responded: "I told you so."

The community, too, appears immune to the violence.

Although Morton's relatives grieved over his body and had to be restrained by police, residents lining the police tape said they have grown accustomed to the violence and could have also predicted the slaying. Within 15 minutes of the shootings, children on bicycles chased darting rats as their parents talked with neighbors.

Others reflected on the violence and understand what it means for Baltimore to have the second-highest homicide rate in the nation.

"This [expletive] is getting crazy," said one of Morton's friends, who asked not to be identified. "What is going on here?"

Police said they have no suspects in the case, nor any in a homicide early yesterday in the 2300 block of Round Road in Cherry Hill. A passer-by spotted the unidentified woman about 2: 30 a.m, dead from a gunshot wound to the chest.

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