Elderly woman shot to death


A 78-year-old man who had just been told that his lease would not be renewed was arrested yesterday after he opened fire at a Cockeysville apartment building for the elderly, killing one woman and injuring a second, police said.

June V. Maxwell, 78, was pronounced dead at Warren Place Apartments from a gunshot wound.

Carolyn D. Lyons, 71, was in fair condition last night at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. She suffered a head injury, apparently from being struck by a pistol, according to her sister and police.

The violence followed a day of disputes between a man and his neighbors on the second floor of the apartments in the former Cockeysville Elementary School at 10535 York Road.

Neighbors said they had long feared the man.

Police did not release his name last night because he had not been formally charged.

After police responded twice for complaints at the building yesterday, building managers told the man that he would be evicted if he did not leave by July 31, said Cpl. Vickie Warehime, a police spokeswoman.

"We believe he felt the two victims were responsible for him having his lease terminated," Warehime said.

Police responded to the building for a third time about 3:45 p.m. to find one woman dead and the second injured.

Warehime said two officers went to the second floor and saw a man "rubbing his hands, covered in blood."

Lyons walked toward the officers from the other end of the hall, screaming that she had been injured.

Seconds later, another neighbor opened her door and, unable to speak, pointed toward Maxwell's apartment, police said. The officers discovered the 78-year-old woman's body inside her apartment, near the door.

Neighbors reported hearing two gunshots.

Lyons' sister, Margaret Dietz, said the women had called police earlier in the week to complain about the man, but were told police could not do anything because he had not assaulted anyone.

"She was trying to avoid him," Dietz said of her sister. "She would look out her door before she went out of her apartment."

Warehime said police did not arrest the man earlier in the day because they did not know he was armed and thought the dispute between neighbors had been resolved.

The earlier calls came at 12:40 p.m. and 2:40 p.m. The call reporting gunfire occurred 13 minutes after police had left the complex the second time.

An official of the privately operated apartment complex would not comment yesterday.

The gunfire set off a brief panic inside the 121-unit apartment building for the elderly and disabled. Many congregated near the adjacent Cockeysville Senior Center as police -- including Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan -- and paramedics rushed to the scene.

"We are all like one big happy family," said Roberta Bew, 77. "We all look out for each other."

Several residents described the alleged gunman as a loner.

"He was a hothead. ... He would go off the deep end real fast, which frightened me," said Bill Layne, 65.

Layne said the man's temper was especially apparent during last year's presidential election, when he would confront residents about their political beliefs.

"He flew off during the election about rich Republicans," Layne said. "He would get very irate. ... He would jump up and scream and holler."

Layne and others also described instances where the man would "hit the ceiling" during card games. Edna Stang, 86, a resident who also worked in the senior center kitchen, said the man refused to dine with other residents.

"It is a shame that you move into a community like this with secure doors and people move in here that apparently don't belong and something like this happens from the inside," Stang said.

Sun staff writer Brenda J. Buote contributed to this article.

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