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Baltimore police track down 17-year-old held hostage

Baltimore police believe they may have thwarted a killing Wednesday when they tracked down a 17-year-old boy who had been abducted while on his way to school and was being held for ransom in a vacant dwelling in Southwest Baltimore.

About 9 a.m., an officer was flagged down by a man who said his son had been abducted. As he was talking to police, he received a call on his cell phone from his son's number, and on the line was a man who demanded cash and two "bricks," a term typically used to describe a large package of drugs.

"I told you, I want $50,000 and two bricks, or I'm gonna start cutting off his fingers!" the man said, according to charging documents.

As officers interviewed the father, police in the Southwest District fielded a crucial phone call. An anonymous caller said they had observed three men enter a vacant dwelling in the 100 block of S. Catherine St., in the Shipley Hill neighborhood, and that one of them had a bag over his head and was in handcuffs.

Patrol officers went to the block, looking for vacant homes with entry points. They heard a noise inside one of the homes, and two men bolted out of the front door. After a chase, they were apprehended, and the 17-year-old, dressed in his yellow and blue school uniform, was later found in the basement of the home.

The boy said his abductors had approached him from behind as he walked to catch a bus on North Avenue, threw a sweatshirt over his head and forced him into a vehicle.

"We feel like we prevented a homicide," said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman.

Police identified the pair as Travis Shears, 20, of the 1800 block of N. Fulton St., and Anton Eastman, 19, of the 2900 block of Westwood Ave. They were charged with kidnapping, extortion, assault and false imprisonment.

Records from Gunstat, the city's program to track individuals charged with gun crime, show Eastman was charged at age 16 in April 2007 with attempted first-degree murder and handgun charges, a case that was waived to juvenile court, where records are sealed. But in August 2008, he was charged with possessing a handgun and was found guilty, receiving six months in jail, records show. He has been arrested at least twice this year, on drug and theft charges.

Shears pleaded guilty to robbery in September 2008, receiving a 10-year sentence. Nine years and a day of that sentence were suspended, however.

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