March of Dimes volunteer gunned down in Southwest Baltimore

Allan Foster, 56, a retired roofer and longtime volunteer with the March of Dimes, was gunned down outside of his Irvington home on Thursday night around 6:50 p.m.
Allan Foster, 56, a retired roofer and longtime volunteer with the March of Dimes, was gunned down outside of his Irvington home on Thursday night around 6:50 p.m. (handout, Baltimore Sun)

Retired after 30 years working as a roofer, Allan Foster enjoyed working part time at his church and helping organize the March of Dimes' annual Great Chesapeake Bay Swim.

Most evenings, the 56-year-old and his wife walked to a neighborhood store to play Keno, which is what they were doing moments before Foster was gunned down Thursday outside his Irvington home in Southwest Baltimore.


Marcia Simpson-Foster, who said her husband didn't have any trouble with anyone, believes it must have been a case of mistaken identity.

"I can't imagine why someone would do this to my husband," Simpson-Foster, 53, said through tears. "This is the worst thing."


The shooting continued a blistering pace of violence in Baltimore. Foster was one of five people shot Thursday, and on Friday morning, a 52-year-old woman was found dead inside her home overlooking Patterson Park in Highlandtown in what police were investigating as a burglary gone wrong.

The killings swelled the city's number of homicides in January to 27, equaling the number killed last June when the city was besieged by a wave of shootings. January is typically a quieter month, with an average of 13 slain over the past four years.

Simpson-Foster said her husband was well-liked on his street, shoveling snow or helping with back-to-school events. He had no criminal record.

When they arrived home from their trip to the store, the 4200 block of Walrad St. was still. Simpson-Foster walked into the house to the kitchen, and her 32-year-old son asked Foster to start his car for him. Foster obliged and went back outside.

Simpson-Foster said she didn't hear a sound, but suddenly her son yelled for her to call 911. Her son and a neighbor urged her not to look outside.

"All I could see was my husband laying in the middle of the street," she said.

A car could be seen driving off down the street, she said.

Police haven't released any information on suspects or a motive.

Simpson-Foster said that her neighborhood has seen some incidents over the years, but she has not feared violence against her family.

"This city …" she said. "I don't know what needs to be done. But something needs to be done."

For the first time in at least a decade, Foster will not help set up the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, an annual charitable fundraiser for the Maryland chapter of the March of Dimes, where Foster has been a longtime volunteer.

"It's a devastating blow to me, to our staff, to everyone at the March of Dimes," race director Chuck Nabit said. "He was such a wonderful, dedicated and tirelessly hardworking volunteer. A really exceptional human being."


Foster was one of just a handful people who set up and broke down event banners and tables and provided food for athletes at the race's starting point and finish line, Nabit said. Over the course of the race weekend in June, he put in between 25 and 30 hours of his own time on the Eastern Shore.

"He just had a big heart," said Nabit, calling the loss "senseless." "He was a very giving individual."

Within the Central Maryland division of the March of Dimes, Foster had been a do-everything leader for more than 25 years.

"He is our No. 1 guy when it comes to anything logistics driven," said Jennifer Tarr, a March of Dimes division director who spoke with him just a week ago to begin planning for the March for Babies event in the spring. "There is no job too big or too small for him."

In Highlandtown, the unidentified victim died in a rowhouse in the 400 block of S. Ellwood Ave. Behind crime scene tape in the rear of the home, a chair from an outdoor furniture set was pushed below the kitchen window, which was open.

Police did not provide additional details, but a neighbor who did not want to be identified said investigators told her they believed it was a burglary.

From the front of the home, nothing appeared out of the ordinary except for two marked police SUVs parked on the street.

"This is unusual for this block," said neighbor Greg Atkins. "Trust me, my eyes are open all the time."

A police spokesman said officers discovered the woman's body about 7:30 a.m. after receiving a 911 call from someone reporting an unconscious person. The woman had suffered trauma to the body, police said, declining to specify.

City Council member James B. Kraft, who represents Highlandtown, said he requested additional officers, including on foot patrol, in the neighborhood before Christmas and again this year.

He said the mayor's administration and police commanders told him the department is too understaffed to fulfill the requests.

"I don't have a gun. I don't have a badge," he said. "I can't stand on every corner. All I can do is try to get [police officers] where they could be and try to get more of them."


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