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Killing near Inner Harbor

The Baltimore Sun

Two men have been charged with killing an18-year-old Reisterstown man who was stabbed yesterday inside a McDonald's restaurant near Baltimore's Inner Harbor, a rare killing in the heart of the city's downtown tourist district.

Ernest Buchanan Jr. was stabbed in the back while fighting with two men, and he died in an ambulance as it sped from South Calvert Street to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center about 10:30 a.m., city police said.

"This is a very unusual incident," said Col. John M. Bevilacqua, the chief of the criminal investigative division. Killings in this area are "very, very unusual," he said.

Mike Evitts, spokesman for the Downtown Partnership, a group that tries to attract commerce and tourism to the Inner Harbor area, said the violence is surprising but not alarming.

"It would be more concerning if something random happened, as tragic as it is," Evitts said.

Police said three men walked together into the McDonald's at 31 S. Calvert St. They said the men got into a fight on a stairway between upper and lower levels of the restaurant. Few patrons were present, Bevilacqua said, and none of the employees was injured.

One of the men was stabbed during the altercation, and the other two quickly walked out of the restaurant, police said. Two patrons -- an off-duty Morgan State University police officer and a man from New York -- followed the suspects out of the restaurant, got into a car, called 911 and continued to follow the men.

"Had they not followed them, it would have been very difficult," Bevilacqua said. "This is a very busy area. People could melt into the crowd [and] we'd never find them."

Police did not release the names of the two who followed the pair because they are witnesses in a homicide.

Officers from the Central District station responded and stopped two men.

Kirk Fonseca, 21, of the 400 bock of E. Lanvale St., and Lewis Edward Rich, 22, of the 2100 block of St. Paul St., were each charged with first-degree murder.

Fonseca was convicted of manufacturing and distributing drugs in January 2006 and received a three-year prison sentence with all but two months suspended, according to court records.

Detectives obtained video surveillance footage from inside and outside the McDonald's. Police would not say yesterday whether the crime was captured on tape.

Many from the lunchtime crowd at the Inner Harbor were confused by the city police officer standing in front of the McDonald's, and by the yellow police tape that blocked off the sidewalk.

"This is my first time out for lunch in a month," said Joan Kronner, a T. Rowe Price employee. "My reaction is shock."

Her friend Susan Hoffman said: "I'm glad we picked the McDonald's in the Galleria!"

Vickie Brand, who also works downtown, had planned on picking up lunch from the McDonald's for others in her office. "I'm not going to eat there anymore," she said after hearing about the stabbing.

Her friend, Jackie Whiten, said: "I'm going back to the county to work. This city is getting ridiculous."

In an e-mailed a statement, the owner of the McDonald's, Gerry Gimelstob, said: "Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family. As always, the safety of our employees and customers is our first priority."

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