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Suspect held in killing of man stealing car tires

The Baltimore Sun

A convicted drug dealer interrupted a man who was trying to steal the tires off of his Mercedes sedan in a Northwest Baltimore neighborhood early yesterday and fatally shot him, authorities said.

Baltimore police and prosecutors said they have authorized a warrant charging Charles E. Brockington Jr., 47, with second-degree murder and handgun violations. Brockington, who was in police custody last night, is a convicted felon and is prohibited from carrying a gun.

Police said the incident occurred about 5:20 a.m. in Northwest Baltimore's East Arlington neighborhood, a tree-lined area near Wabash Avenue. Several neighbors called the shooting unusual and they didn't hear anything above the drone of their air conditioners.

"This is a quiet little neighborhood," said Gwen Abrams, a 65-year-old retiree, while standing on the front porch of her rowhouse near the shooting scene. "We sit out here on our porch sipping wine."

Police initially responded to the 4000 block of Cedardale Road for an emergency call from someone who reported that a car had crashed into a tree. Officers found an unconscious man in the driver's seat of a maroon Chrysler Concorde suffering from at least one gunshot wound.

The man - identified as Joseph Milton Johnson Jr. - was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead later in the morning, police said. The 29-year-old man last lived in the 3300 block of Courtleigh Drive in Gwynn Oak in Baltimore County, police said.

While officers investigated, they received reports of an armed person on the same street, just south of where the car had been found.

Officers found a man armed with a gun and took him into custody "peacefully," said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman.

During their investigation, homicide detectives learned that the man was inside a rowhouse in the block getting ready for work when he heard noises outside and looked out the window, Moses said.

The man saw someone at his Mercedes stealing his tires and went outside to confront him, Moses said. Two tires had been loaded in the back seat of the Concorde, and the right side of the car was propped up on two concrete blocks. Brockington confronted Johnson, allegedly brandished a handgun, and then shot him, police said.

Brockington and other co-defendants were convicted in February 1998 on drug-dealing charges, and he also was convicted of assault in 1994, electronic court records show. He was sentenced to eight years in prison but was given a suspended sentence and placed on three years' supervised probation, the court records show. He served nearly a year in jail awaiting trial.

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