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Crime

Security guard charged with fatal shooting of man in Highlandtown bar had previous assault charge, once killed a man as off-duty officer

The security guard who fatally shot a man during an altercation at a bar in Highlandtown last month neglected his legal duty to retreat before opening fire with a handgun featuring an illegal extended magazine, Baltimore police wrote in court documents Tuesday charging the man with murder.

Officers arrested Keith Mario Luckey, 39, on Tuesday. He is charged with first- and second-degree murder, reckless endangerment, assault and various firearms offenses stemming from the fatal shooting at the ChrisT bar in the early morning of Nov. 7, according to charging documents.

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The court papers offer new details about exactly what happened that night: Video footage showed Luckey fired several rounds at Kevin Abel Torres Guerrero, a 35-year-old soccer coach, after Torres threw a brick at the security guard. Police wrote several other patrons were in close proximity and could have been injured by the gunfire.

Unrelated court records and previous reporting from The Baltimore Sun provide more information about the security guard: Nov. 7 was not the first time Luckey shot and killed someone, and he was charged with assault for allegedly hitting someone with a baton while working security at the same bar two months earlier.

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Torres, 35, was at the bar Nov. 7 celebrating his soccer team’s league championship. The cheerful evening devolved into chaos when Torres confronted Luckey, who was arguing with his stepdaughter, and Luckey opened fire on him. Police said Luckey shot Torres multiple times. He died shortly thereafter at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

His killing ignited cries from his family and the community for justice and closure.

Sor Torres holds a photo of her husband, Kevin Torres, who was fatally shot by a security guard outside ChrisT Bar in Baltimore Highlands in November.

Luckey told police he acted in self-defense after Torres hurled a brick at him. But several witnesses have disputed his account.

The murder case does not yet appear in online court records. It’s unclear if Luckey, a former member of the Maryland Air National Guard, is being represented by an attorney.

The shooting in Highlandtown was one of at least three by a security guard in Baltimore this year. A security guard was arrested after the 26-year-old man she shot while guarding a Royal Farms died in October.

Commonly referred to as the “duty to retreat,” someone who encounters a threat in public is required by state law to try to get away before resorting to deadly force. A failure to retreat can undermine claims of self-defense in Maryland.

When Torres and another person approached Luckey and a second security guard, video showed Luckey spray a “chemical agent” at them from about 10 feet away, according to charging documents. After being sprayed, Torres and the other person retreated approximately 4 feet. Torres then picked up a brick and threw it at the two guards, who immediately split apart, the documents detail.

“Instead of obeying his legal duty to retreat and walk away from the situation before resorting to deadly force, Luckey abruptly stops and turns toward [Torres] as [Torres] is bending down to retrieve a second piece of brick,” detectives wrote.

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By that time, Luckey had drawn his Glock 22 handgun, according to charging documents. The handgun was loaded with an illegal extended magazine, capable of holding 15 rounds. Luckey also was equipped with mace and tactical gear.

“Luckey then takes two steps back closer to [Torres], spreads his feet slightly apart and once standing squarely facing [Torres], Luckey raises and aims the handgun at [Torres’] upper body,” wrote detectives, describing the video. “Before [Torres] lifts the brick piece above his head to throw it, Luckey immediately opens fire.”

Luckey fired the first shot before Torres threw the brick, but the brick was in the air when Luckey fired again, according to charging documents. Luckey fired twice more after dodging the brick; Torres began to run away but collapsed to the ground.

Detectives interviewed Luckey in the homicide unit.

“He had a brick. He threw one at me,” Luckey allegedly told police. “Then he picked up a bigger one and threw it at me ... based on my knowledge, training, and experience, I know it to be a weapon that can cause grievous bodily harm or death, so at that point, I took out my weapon, fired and he was hit.”

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Torres’ death a homicide by multiple gunshot wounds. Police said in charging documents that six cartridge casings were recovered.

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About two months before the fatal shooting, Luckey was charged with assault and wielding a dangerous weapon for an incident that occurred at the same bar, court records show.

Baltimore police met with two men around 3 a.m. Sept. 9 who said they got into an altercation with a security guard at “Chris Bar,” according to charging documents. The men told officers Luckey beat one man with a baton, leaving him with a broken finger and bruises, while the other man got knocked to the ground and sliced his hand on a broken bottle.

Police said in those charging documents that Luckey “admitted to assaulting” one man while being recorded by an officer’s body camera.

Luckey is a co-owner of American Professional Security, with his Baltimore County home listed as the company’s headquarters, according to public business records. Online Maryland business records list the company, formed in 2018, as “not in good standing.”

There are about 12,500 private security guards in the state licensed by Maryland State Police. Despite the licensing requirement, there are no statewide training standards for security guards and state police don’t keep records of shootings by on-duty guards. It’s up to local law enforcement to investigate shootings by security guards.

A state police spokeswoman could not say Tuesday afternoon whether Luckey’s license has been suspended.

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On July 12, 2019, Luckey, at the time a senior airman with the National Guard’s 175th Security Forces Squad, shot and killed a man in a parking lot outside a restaurant in Baltimore County. He was off duty at the time, but his unit was tasked with investigating and preventing crime and maintaining security of the Warfield Air National Guard base in Middle River.

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It was just before 2 a.m. outside the Golden Dragon Bar and Grill in Windsor Mill, when Luckey saw a dispute breaking out in the parking lot, police said at the time. Luckey, who had a handgun permit, noticed a man with a gun and demanded he drop it.

Luckey fired several times at the man, who fired back, police said then. The man, Jerome Dewitt Garrison, 36, died at a nearby hospital. Another man was injured in the shooting, but it’s unclear who shot him.

The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office decided against charging Luckey, writing in a September 2019 declination letter that “Luckey was justified in the shooting of Jerome Garrison for the protection of his life.”

Police in Baltimore County pulled Luckey over about a year later, a traffic stop that yielded several motor vehicle charges. He later pleaded guilty to driving while impaired by alcohol.

Luckey claimed he was an Air Force police officer during the traffic stop and “removed and dropped his badge” during the encounter, charging documents show. County officers confiscated a handgun from him during the arrest and sought to confirm his employment, but a master sergeant with the 175th Security Forces told officers he hadn’t been with the unit since the end of February 2020.

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In a document associated with his initial court appearance in that case, Luckey listed his occupation as the owner of a security company.

Baltimore Sun reporter Lee O. Sanderlin and Capital Gazette reporter Dan Belson contributed to this article.


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