3 wounded in violent attack outside hotel

The Baltimore Sun

Brandon Pustejovsky was still awake, unable to sleep through the loud noises coming from the last-call crowd outside the historic Belvedere Hotel where he lives.

Then came the sound of gunshots. Six of them, loud.

"I looked at my wife - she said, 'You're kidding me. You're kidding me,' " Pustejovsky, 36, said.

When he ran downstairs, he saw the aftermath of a fight that left two people shot and another man stabbed. A woman wearing a green shirt and white jeans was lying face down, with a bartender holding a towel to her leg to stop the bleeding.

Police said the incident occurred just after 2 a.m. yesterday in front of the hotel in the first block of E. Chase St. A man was shot in the wrist and chest, and a woman was shot in the leg, according to Troy Harris, a police spokesman. A man was also stabbed in the torso, he said. They were taken to area hospitals and were listed in serious but stable condition.

Details about the incident were not immediately available, and police knew of no motive for the shooting.

Residents of the Midtown area said they are used to a different kind of commotion, with its numerous shops, restaurants and bars and clubs. The Belvedere, which opened in 1903, is often described as the crown jewel of the area. A plaque outside the building reads, "Old World elegance still exists. ... The Belvedere proudly stands as a tribute to that elegance."

But residents say a rowdier crowd has been frequenting the Belvedere since a hip-hop club opened in the basement several months ago. The building has two other bars, on the lobby level and top floor.

On its MySpace page, the Suite Ultralounge and Nightclub is described as the "only upscale venue in Baltimore where you can bring your own bottle of top shelf [liquor] and party all night." It lists a "plush lounge, large dance floor and stage, private VIP lounges and plasma screens."

In April 2006, city officials shut down an illegal nightclub in the basement of the Belvedere, in an effort to put an end to excessive noise and illegal activity that had bothered condominium residents of the building for several years. The owners of the basement space, Sammy Hyun Paik and partner Louis L. Wood, were hit with criminal and civil charges in connection with operating an illegal "bottle club," which business owners can apply for to allow patrons to bring in alcohol.

Charges against Paik were dropped late last year; Wood's charges, which also included a handgun violation, were placed on the "stet" docket, which means the court has indefinitely postponed the case.

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