Four people died and one was injured in a shooting and explosion Saturday in a townhouse neighborhood in Woodlawn, including the alleged gunman, whom Baltimore County police said they killed.
Neighbors called 911 to report a fire and an armed man in the 7500 block of Maury Road, and officers and firefighters arrived together about 6:40 a.m. to find the man outside the burning homes, county police spokeswoman Joy Stewart said.
Four Baltimore County police officers shot at the man, later identified as Everton Brown, killing him, Stewart said.
“That threat was neutralized,” she said Saturday at the scene. “At that point, firefighters were able to address the fire.”
In addition to the gunman, two other men and a woman died in the incident, and fourth man is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries at a hospital, police said.
Neighbors said Brown, 56, who lived in one of the destroyed houses, had a history of erratic behavior.
The names of the other people killed were not released. The four officers who shot at Brown also were not identified Saturday, and neither was the cause of the fire nor explosion. Officers’ body cameras captured footage of the incident, Stewart said.
No family members of Brown could be reached Saturday.
The chaotic incident came just three days after the most recent peace order was filed against Brown and after more than a decade of complaints from neighbors, who said he was paranoid that his house was being constantly searched by the FBI and other agencies. He accused neighbors of assisting, they said.
Kweku Quansah, 51, said he heard an explosion and came outside to check what was going on. He said he saw his neighbor’s house on fire, then saw the gunman walking between cars firing shots.
“He was shooting towards us,” Quansah said. “And then I saw a lady on the ground. He turned and shot the lady again on the ground.”
Quansah said he has been a resident in the Parkview Crossing neighborhood for 23 years and said what took place Saturday morning was “not surprising” — it was just a matter of when.
“It was like a ticking bomb,” he said.
Residents said the gunman lived in the community and had threatened and confronted neighbors, accusing them of spying on him for the federal government.
Quansah said he reported the suspect to police in the past.
“We don’t know why he was doing that, but this has been going on over and over again,” Quansah said. “A lot of people tried to complain about it, but nothing was done.
“I was like, ‘Do you all want him to commit a crime before you guys come out to help us?’ and they [police] said, ‘Yes, that is the Maryland law.’ ”
Ranjith Ravindiran and his wife, who live just down the street, said the shooter was going door-to-door with a gun.
“It still could have been much worse today,” Ravindiran said.
Ravindiran, 50, first moved into the townhome community in 2005. Ravindiran said the man had threatened people in the neighborhood for years and yelled at people on the street.
Ravindiran said the alleged gunman had a red truck outside his home with a sign saying he was being watched by the FBI. He said he kept his family away from the man’s home.
“Everyone knew he was a problem,” Ravindiran said during an interview.
Jo Conyers said her mother lives a few doors down from the gunman. She said Brown would scream from his porch on a bullhorn and walked up and down the sidewalk with a rifle.
“My mom has been trying to get him help for 20 years to no avail,” Conyers said. “The police would just come and sit outside his house but never did anything.”
When Detola Laditan’s mother told him — a day before his planned Mother’s Day visit Sunday — that her neighbor had “gone crazy,” the 46-year-old Parkville resident had no doubt whom she was referring to.
Brown had long been a “deeply troubled person” who kept the signs in the windows of his house and red Ford Explorer claiming that authorities were illegally searching his property, Laditan said. He had harassed Laditan and others in passing, accusing them of spying on him for the government.
“Over the years, he’s been just a terror,” said Laditan, whose parents have lived in the block since 2005. “I lived with my parents there, and I’ve seen firsthand. … I’m glad he didn’t walk down to my parents’ house.”
Brown had posted on social media about being tracked by federal agents.
The Baltimore Sun visited his home in 2008, after Brown contacted a reporter saying his home was being repeatedly searched by police. Brown told a reporter he kept his home open so that police don’t have to break anything to get inside.
Court records show peace orders were placed against him March 29, and again on Wednesday.
The Baltimore County Fire Department was able to work the fire, and there is “no current threat to the community,” according to police.
Tim Rostkowski, a county fire department spokesman, said the 2-alarm blaze collapsed two houses and damaged a third.
The Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene of Saturday’s incident, which involved “shootings, explosion, collapse and natural gas-fed fire in multiple townhouse units,” the department posted on Facebook.
It’s the second major, deadly incident in Baltimore County in recent months, after five people were fatally shot, another was injured and an apartment building was set on fire in Essex in late March.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., Police Chief Melissa Hyatt and Fire Chief Joanne R. Rund went to the neighborhood Saturday, the county executive tweeted.
“This rapidly evolving situation has required a multi-agency response and will take time to fully investigate,” he tweeted. “Today, we pray for the injured victims and the families who have lost loved ones.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.