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Teen's alleged killer had escaped hospital wing, evaded police for weeks before shooting

Anthony Jerome Clark Jr. is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and assault charges associated with firing at officers, police said.
Anthony Jerome Clark Jr. is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, and assault charges associated with firing at officers, police said. (Baltimore Police)

When Anthony Jerome Clark Jr. allegedly shot 13-year-old DiAndre Barnes in an early-morning burst of gunfire June 11, he'd been on the run from police for more than two weeks, having slipped away from a secure hospital facility for patients with psychological conditions.

The 25-year-old Clark, whose nickname is "Trouble," had been arrested and charged with burglary, armed robbery, handgun violations and several other crimes in connection with two incidents May 26.

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Authorities say in court records that he robbed a man at gunpoint at a gas station, fled, then was taken into custody after a standoff with police officers at a home in Reservoir Hill.

Authorities say he slit his wrist with a box cutter and told officers that they would "have to kill" him. He was eventually Tasered and brought under control.

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By the next day, May 27, police had left Clark at a secure psychological unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center for treatment.

Police said they told staff to notify them before releasing Clark so that officers could return to arrest him. In the meantime, police prepared two arrest warrants — one for the gas station robbery, one for breaking into the Reservoir Hill home — to secure his criminal detention after his medical release.

But Clark was able to leave the hospital without police being notified. The warrants for his arrest weren't served until June 13 — two days after Barnes was gunned down, and Clark, identified by witnesses as the shooter, had a gunbattle with police and was re-arrested.

Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith said that "police followed their protocols" for leaving detainees in the custody of hospital security. He said his understanding is that Clark was never discharged, but nonetheless "walked away from the hospital on his own."

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Karen Lancaster, a University of Maryland Medical Center spokeswoman, said she was limited in what she could say about the case by patient privacy laws.

"As a matter of practice, we continually assess hospital protocols for any number of potential scenarios and situations," Lancaster said in a statement. "While patient privacy prohibits us from addressing the specifics of this particular case, we are evaluating the details and reviewing the facts."

Ronnie Barnes, DiAndre's father, declined to comment. Clark's family could not be reached for comment, and Clark, who is currently in jail, did not have an attorney listed in court records.

Clark's slipping back onto the street after being charged with serious crimes comes amid increases in crime in Baltimore, and as the ability of police to keep dangerous individuals behind bars comes under more scrutiny.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis suggested recently that violent criminals in Baltimore are treated too leniently by the court system — given bail, parole and probation instead of being locked away.

Clark did not face the courts before returning to the street.

Authorities say Clark watched a man put a wad of cash in his pocket at a gas station in the 1000 block of W. North Avenue about 11:20 a.m. on May 26 and then robbed him at gunpoint.

The man got into his car and began circling the neighborhood looking for Clark, authorities say. He eventually ran into a police officer, who joined the search.

At some point, authorities say, a man "dressed only in his boxer shorts was observed in the rear window" of a home in the 2200 block of Eutaw St. with what appeared to be a silver handgun in his hand.

An officer entered the home, helped its residents escape and then saw Clark "holding a silver object" and appearing "highly agitated," authorities say.

"You will have to kill me," Clark allegedly said.

From outside, authorities say, another officer then saw Clark cut his wrist. The officers inside decided to advance toward Clark, and Tasered him "to assist in taking [him] into custody."

In a statement of charges, Detective Daniel Counsell wrote that officers "were unable to accompany Mr. Clark" into the "secure wing" of the hospital's psychological unit, but he does not explain the reason. He wrote that hospital staff were instructed "to contact police prior to Mr. Clark's discharge."

Once police realized Clark had left the hospital, Smith said, they immediately started looking for him. But they "had no reason to know that the tragedy two weeks later was going to take place," he said. Clark was considered a threat to himself.

More than two weeks later, police were called to the 900 block of Pennsylvania Ave. about 1:30 a.m. June 11, where they located two individuals who had been shot. One was Barnes. The other was a 21-year-old man who police believe was the intended target of the shooting.

Witnesses later identified Clark as the shooter, authorities say.

The next night, authorities say, police officers spotted Clark and gave chase. Clark allegedly fired at the officers, who fired back, before tossing a handgun and climbing a fire escape in the 800 block of Fremont Ave.

Clark eventually surrendered on the roof of one of the homes in the block, authorities say.

Police searched an address associated with Clark and said they found a gun matched by ballistics testing to the gun used in Barnes' killing.

Clark now faces charges including first-degree murder in Barnes' death and attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of the other man and the shooting at the officers, none of whom were struck.

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