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Video of Annapolis homicide, aftermath lead detectives to arrest

Michael Davon Gibson, 21, was charged with murder and a host of related offenses for gunning down 49-year-old Leslie Saunders in the Bay Ridge Gardens community of Annapolis.
Michael Davon Gibson, 21, was charged with murder and a host of related offenses for gunning down 49-year-old Leslie Saunders in the Bay Ridge Gardens community of Annapolis. (Annapolis Police Department)

The man charged with gunning down Leslie Eugene Saunders in the Bay Ridge Gardens community on March 15 was well known to Annapolis police.

Three detectives recognized Michael Davon Gibson, 21, when they played back footage which captured the 49-year-old being gunned down callously at close range.

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In fact, video from closed-circuit television cameras at multiple housing complexes and private security footage gave investigators a pretty good picture of Gibson’s movements before and after he opened fire, court records show.

"He wasn’t a stranger to the Annapolis Police Department,” Police Chief Ed Jackson told The Capital, citing previous arrests by his officers.

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Gibson, of President Street in Annapolis, is being held without bond at the Jennifer Road Detention Center. He does not have an attorney listed in court records.

Before the shooting, Gibson was seen with someone in the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis’ Harbour House before he ducked into an apartment and emerged wearing a mask and a red, white and black cross-body bag. Police say this type of bag is commonly used to conceal weapons or drugs.

Not long after he was seen at Harbour House, Gibson popped up on cameras in Bay Ridge Gardens — still wearing a mask and carrying the distinctive bag, police wrote in charging documents. Gibson followed Saunders into an apartment building’s stairwell before both emerged moments later.

Jackson said in a phone interview that investigators are still not sure yet if Gibson and Saunders knew each other and if so, in what capacity. However, he said, "the offense wasn’t random.”

Video showed Saunders rounding a building and entering a courtyard, with Gibson hurrying to follow him. In the courtyard, police wrote that Gibson was seen pulling out from the bag what they believe to be a handgun, pointing it at Saunders and firing.

Saunders went down, court records state. Gibson walked over, stood over him and fired “several more times.”

“It was just senseless, brazen in the fact that it was done in broad daylight,” Jackson said. "It was done when children were out playing, when families were out walking.”

Investigators recovered a number of shell casings from the area of 8 Bens Drive, where police said they found Saunders suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Paramedics pronounced Saunders dead and his body was taken for an autopsy in Baltimore. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Saunders’ death was a homicide by gunshot.

After the shooting, detectives traced Gibson back to Harbour House where, despite multiple stops, including wooded area, he’s still seen with the cross-body bag. There, police wrote, he entered another apartment and emerged without the bag.

Jackson spoke proudly of his detectives, who “did the ground work" and thanked federal authorities, like the FBI, which helped with evidence and the Anne Arundel County Police Department, which assisted with warrants.

Together, they did “exhaustive work” to build a strong case, Jackson said. “When agencies cooperate we can do great things."

Police arrested Gibson Friday. Detectives contacted the Maryland Gun Center, which confirmed Gibson was prohibited from possessing a firearm, according to charging documents.

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Officers regularly contact the gun center — a branch of the Maryland State Police — when they retrieve a gun from the streets. A gun center investigator checks various federal and state databases to see if the person who was caught with the gun is prohibited from possessing one and, if the serial number is in tact, whether the gun was reported stolen. The troopers then recommend charges.

Gibson pleaded guilty in 2019 to illegally possessing a firearm, an offense that disqualifies one from legally having a gun in the future. A judge sentenced him to five years in prison, suspending all but 183 days and adding two years of supervised probation. At the time of his 2019 arrest by Annapolis police, he was already prohibited because of a juvenile conviction at age 16, court records show

Annapolis officials were expected to host a conference in the Bay Ridge Gardens community Monday afternoon, where Jackson planned to tell the community about the arrest and charges.

Beforehand, Jackson said the location was important because the community had been afflicted by deadly gun violence, with two others — Tierra Taylor, 30, and Kory Johnson, 27 — having been shot fatally there over the past two years. An arrest has not been made in Taylor’s or Johnson’s killing. "It’s nice to be able to tell the community we put one down.”

Even though Gibson is in custody, police are continuing to investigate Saunders’ death. The department encourages anyone with anyone with information to call detectives at 410-260-3439 or to leave an anonymous tip by dialing 1-866-7LOCKUP, for Metro Crime Stoppers. Tips leading to an arrest or indictment may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000.

“We got a murderer off the street,” Jackson said, "and I’m happy about that.”

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