In buying back guns, police run low on cash

The Baltimore Police Department's $100,000 gun buyback program slowed down yesterday as several districts ran out of cash, but a top official promised to replenish funds throughout the city today.

In two days, officers have spent $45,900 to purchase 544 firearms. Most were collected Wednesday, when residents brought a flood of guns to the nine districts the first day of the department's initiative.

"It was a little slow" yesterday, said Deputy Police Commissioner Marcus Brown. Today, "all the districts will be fully funded."

That will be welcome news to Tylden Streett. The North Baltimore man attempted to sell an old shotgun he found in his closet to the Police Department's Northern District, but officers told him they had no more money.

The police are paying cash for guns until June 15 - offering $50 for rifles and shotguns, $100 for handguns and $200 for assault weapons. Sellers are given anonymity. The money comes from funds generated by cash and property seized from drug dealers.

Brown said the statistics prove that the program is removing the most dangerous guns from city streets. Of the guns bought, 353 are handguns, 185 are long guns and six are assault weapons. (Police also collected 10 BB guns, for disposal only.)

- Doug Donovan


Man, 30, is fatally shot after leaving Remington bar

A 30-year-old man was fatally shot early yesterday, shortly after leaving a tavern in Baltimore's Remington neighborhood with his girlfriend, city police said.

The victim, Samuel Richardson, was walking with his companion near the Rendezvous Bar in the 400 block of W. 26th St. about 2:30 a.m. when a man stepped from a vehicle and shot him multiple times, police said. Richardson, of the 2600 block of Hampden Ave., was pronounced dead in the emergency room at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 3:03 a.m., police said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call homicide Detective Robert Cherry at 410-396-2100.

- Richard Irwin


Dunbar High alumni to share concerns with school officials

City schools chief Bonnie S. Copeland and state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick agreed yesterday to meet next week with a group of Dunbar High School alumni concerned about the direction of the school.

Bishop Douglas I. Miles of the Koinonia Baptist Church, a member of the Dunbar Advisory Committee, said the group fears the high school's focus is shifting away from preparing students for college and toward preparing them for careers right out of high school.

At a news conference yesterday morning, the advisory group asked for school officials to include its members in planning for Dunbar's future, according to Miles, a 1966 Dunbar graduate. Other goals of the group are to ensure Dunbar receives $54 million for renovations; guarantee a quicker completion date for the renovations; increase the school's enrollment; and ensure the curriculum remains focused on college preparatory classes.


Montgomery Co. to review fatal shooting by police rookie

At the request of Anne Arundel County, the Montgomery County state's attorney's office will review the May 24 fatal shooting by a rookie police officer of a naked, unarmed man in Glen Burnie.

Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County prosecutor's office, said the request was made because "there are too many factors which lead to the possibility of a conflict of interest" for Anne Arundel prosecutors to be involved.

The mother of Tommy Pleasant, the police officer, is Sgt. Kathy Pleasant, a longtime member of the department who has worked closely with prosecutors.

Donald E. Coates, 20, of Glen Burnie was shot as he reportedly charged toward the officer, who had responded to reports that Coates had used drugs, was armed, and had fired a gun inside the townhouse he shared with his girlfriend and others. Officer Pleasant was placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.

- Andrea F. Siegel


Police investigate reported rape near Hickey School

Baltimore County police are investigating a report that a female relative of an employee of the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School was raped earlier this week near the juvenile facility, police said yesterday.

Another employee at the school has been placed on administrative leave until the police investigation is completed, according to LaWanda Edwards, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Juvenile Services. Police said yesterday that no charges had been filed in the case.

The employee placed on leave is a group leader who had regular contact with children placed at the school, Edwards said.

The 22-year-old woman who reported being raped had been visiting a family member on state property just outside the grounds of the Hickey School, according to Edwards. Police said the woman was sitting on the front steps about 5 p.m. Wednesday when a man, whom they described as an acquaintance, drove by. The woman said that when the man got out of his car she walked inside the house to get away from him, but he followed her inside and raped her, police said.


Move to postpone trial denied in killings of 3

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge denied yesterday a defense request to postpone the murder trial of two men accused of slashing the throats of three young relatives - meaning that the trial is likely to begin Wednesday.

Policarpio Espinoza, 23, and his nephew, Adan Canela, 18, are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder. They are accused of killing three children in May last year in a Northwest Baltimore apartment, leaving one decapitated and the other two nearly decapitated.

In a hearing yesterday before Circuit Judge Lynn K. Stewart, defense lawyers requested that the trial be postponed because they needed more time to review the state's evidence. Stewart denied the motion.

Circuit Judge Thomas Ward, who retired in February 1997 but still hears cases, will preside over the trial.

- Julie Bykowicz


Man, 18, points a handgun at police, is shot, wounded

An 18-year-old being chased by police officers was shot multiple times last night when he turned and pointed a large-caliber semiautomatic handgun at them on a street near Pimlico Race Course, a Police Department spokesman said.

The wounded man was taken to Sinai Hospital, where his condition was not available.

The confrontation occurred after Northwestern District plainclothes officers conducting a drug investigation heard gunshots about 7:45 p.m. coming from the 3100 block of Spaulding Ave. They observed a man running from the scene and gave chase, said the spokesman, Detective Donny Moses.

Nearby, in the 5000 block of Palmer Ave., the man was about 20 feet from the officers when he turned toward them, drew a handgun and was shot in the torso, Moses said. "Things happened so fast the officers had no time to warn the man to drop the gun," he said.

Moses said a check on the .44-caliber handgun the man was carrying indicated that it had been reported stolen in South Carolina.

Several officers were placed on routine administrative leave while the incident is investigated, and charges against the wounded man were pending, Moses said.

- Richard Irwin


FBI seeking man in seven bank robberies this year

The FBI is asking for the public's help in catching a man responsible for seven bank robberies this year in the city, including the same branch twice in three months.

The latest holdup occurred shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday when a man walked into the Provident Bank at 1010 W. 36th St. and handed a teller a note demanding money. The FBI said that no gun was seen, but that the man made threats indicating he was armed.

The robber was described as a black man in his mid-30s, 5-feet, 7-inches to 5-feet, 9-inches tall and weighing 135 to 150 pounds. He was cleanshaven and wore a navy blue baseball hat and a navy blue shirt with gray stripes on the shoulders.

The FBI believes the same man robbed the Carrollton Bank at 344 N. Charles St. on Jan. 4 and on March 29; the Provident Bank at 2118 E. Monument St. and the Wachovia Bank at 1228 N. Charles St. on April 7; the Provident Bank at 4552 Edmondson Ave. on May 4 and the M&T; Bank at 100 N. Greene St. on May 18.

Anyone with information is urged to call the FBI's Bank Robbery Task Force at 410-265-8080.

- Matthew Dolan


Man to serve nearly 20 years for string of bank robberies

A 41-year-old Baltimore man was sentenced yesterday to nearly 20 years in prison for leading a gang that prosecutors say robbed at least seven banks.

U.S. District Chief Judge Benson E. Legg sentenced Mario D. Simuel, 41, to 19 1/2 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release in connection with his guilty plea to armed bank robbery. Legg also ordered Simuel to pay $105,352 in restitution.

Between July and October 2003, according to court papers, Simuel and nine others conspired to rob seven banks in Baltimore and Baltimore County.

Among the co-defendants in the case, those receiving prison time included Duane Chase, who was sentenced to more than 16 years; Cierra Dillard, slightly more than a year; Kenneth Eads, four years; Devon Little, five years; Joseph McKenny, two years and three months; Kevin McNeill, more than 15 years; and Kafia Burnett, nearly six years. Shatika Lawson, another co-defendant, is scheduled to be sentenced July 8.

- Matthew Dolan


3 lanes to close at President, Pratt streets until Monday

Lane closures are planned for this weekend along Pratt Street at the intersection of President Street, according to city transportation officials.

Starting at 7 tonight, three lanes of eastbound traffic will be closed to through traffic for the installation of concrete crosswalks. Left turns onto President will be allowed from the center lane.

The work is expected to be completed by Monday at 1 a.m.

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