A stakeout at a dumping ground for stolen cars led police to two suspects in a series of armed robberies and a rape, possibly ending a recent crime wave that terrorized Federal Hill and South Baltimore residents.
In one of the incidents, which police described as particularly violent, robbers forced a man to the ground in an alley off Henry Street in South Baltimore on April 22. One of them put a gun to the side of his head and reportedly said: "I'm the smart one. I won't kill you. We got your address, so don't call the police."
The victim did, but an unrelated arrest is what led police to two suspects.
Shawn Delaney, 16, of the 4600 block of Wallington Ave. in Northwest Baltimore and Jamarl Wilson, 16, of the 1200 block of Kitmore Road in North Baltimore have been charged as adults with three counts of armed robbery and one count of first-degree rape.
They are being held without bail in the Baltimore City Detention Center. No defense lawyers have been assigned to the case yet, and the suspects' families did not return calls seeking comment yesterday.
Police arrested the young men April 24 after questioning a 13-year-old girl they allegedly saw climb into a stolen Dodge Neon parked in the 5600 block of Woodmont Ave., off Loch Raven Boulevard.
Questioning led to the arrests, and court documents reveal that police seized 32 items from Wilson's home, including items belonging to the rape victim and a handgun.
News of the teen-agers' arrests brought relief to the Federal Hill and South Baltimore neighborhoods, communities of restored 19th-century rowhouses and popular restaurants south of the Inner Harbor. It also left some angry and accusing police of failing to warn them about the seriousness and serial nature of the crimes.
Bonnie Crockett, president of the Federal Hill South Community Association, said she and other residents knew about some of the holdups, but had no idea they were linked, and were unaware of the rape until Southern District commander Maj. Jeffrey R. Rosen sent her an e-mail after the arrests.
"We need to hear about these things earlier so we can take precautions and be more aware that someone is at large in the neighborhood," Crockett said. "We are very relieved that these men were caught. There's still a lot of concern about increased crime."
Police said they did the best they could to get the word out, but they did not know the scope of the crimes until the arrests. Rosen said detectives had no idea the cases were linked until the robbery victim's credit card and items belonging to the rape victim were discovered in the April 24 search, which resulted from the Regional Auto Theft Task Force investigating stolen cars found in Northeast Baltimore.
He said he e-mailed Crockett the next day.
Evidence seized, police said in court charging documents, also provide a link to the recent robberies of pizza deliverymen in Northeast Baltimore, as well as holdups in North Baltimore and Towson.
The Federal Hill South Community Association has scheduled a meeting about the crimes in and around its neighborhood for May 22. Police will be invited.
The first reported holdup in the most recent cases occurred in August at Light and Cross streets. Police said they believe the same men committed holdups on April 1 in the 1100 block of Riverside Ave., and April 22 in the 1300 block of Henry St.