49-year-old man dies at Baltimore Central Booking, minutes after he called two relatives

A detainee died at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center facility Thursday night — the third death reported at the facility this year.

Andre “Shawn” Fennell, 49, collapsed at 7:45 p.m., according to the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services — about a half-hour after his daughter and a cousin said he placed calls to each of them.

Fennell was working on a loosely supervised cleaning facility sanitation crew in a corridor when he collapsed in front of several corrections officers, according to the department.

Facility staff assisted Fennell, conducting CPR and calling 911. Medics arrived and pronounced Fennell dead at 8 p.m., according to the department.

Authorities temporarily shut down the facility to investigate. It resumed bookings after midnight.

Fennell’s daughter, Chyna Kent, said she had two missed calls from him on Thursday while she was at work. One was at 4:51 p.m. and another at 7:15 p.m.

Kent, 28, said she spoke regularly with her father, but they hadn’t talked this week.

She said he was a “good guy” and that she was upset and surprised to hear about his sudden passing. Kent said she was not aware of any medical issues he had.

“I used to go to see him every week, check on him, give him some money,” she said. “On his first court date, I saw him and he looked fine.”

Fennell’s cousin, Oliver Richardson, said he also received a call from him just 30 minutes before he collapsed.

Richardson, 44, said he received the call, and then heard Fennell say his name at the other end. Then the line went dead.

“It never happened before where he would call and hang up,” he said. “The first thought I thought of after hearing what happened was that call — how strange that call was.”

Richardson said he’d only spoken to Fennell once before since his September booking.

“For him to place that call like that, it was something detrimental,” he said. “I think he was in a situation and trying to tell someone.”

Corrections department spokespersons said no foul play is suspected, but the state medical examiner’s office will make the final determination on Fennell’s cause of death.

Fennell was booked into the facility on Sept. 12 on charges of breaking and entering, according to Gerard Shields, a department spokesman.

A month before Fennell’s death, David Ott, a 31-year-old Morrell Park man, died at the facility after initially being taken to a hospital because of medical concerns. The medical examiner found various drugs in his system, including methadone and ethanol, and listed his cause of death as “undetermined.”

In June, Deniro Bellamy, a 31-year-old disabled man who had turned himself in on a traffic violation, collapsed in a holding cell with other inmates and was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The medical examiner found morphine and fentanyl in his body and listed his death as undetermined.

After hearing about his brother’s death, Zeke Bellamy said he rushed to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he found staff were “very secretive” about what had happened to his brother. He said he was not permitted to see the body before it was taken to the medical examiner’s office.

Zeke Bellamy said his brother had a mental disability and lived in a Randallstown group home called Emerge. He did not have a driver’s license and had been driving illegally at the time of the traffic violation.

Central Booking, the first place people are brought to after being arrested in the city, has seen a spike in assaults since the closure of the city jail in July 2015.

The Baltimore jail system, including Central Booking, is operating under the terms of a 2015 settlement — the latest in a case that dates to 1973 — that required state officials to its overhaul health care services. The settlement followed Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to close the Baltimore City Detention Center.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the original case, referred questions about the latest death to the Public Justice Center. Public Justice referred the inquiry to an outside lawyer handling the settlement who could not be reached for comment.

Richardson said he grew up with Fennell in Baltimore and that he was a “decent, humble, well-mannered guy” who had a rough time growing up. Fennell had a few odd jobs in apartment maintenance, auto detailing and home renovation, and he was trying to get better work, his cousin said.

Shields said Fennell had been serving a 25-year sentence for attempted murder from 1991 until 2009, when he was released early to mandatory supervision after gaining good behavior credits.

Then he was convicted in July 2016 of first-degree burglary in Baltimore and given a three-year sentence. He was paroled on March 30, according to Shields.

Richardson said Fennell was healthy but had an “on and off” problem with heroin.

Bernice Mitchell, a 53-year-old woman, died at Central Booking in December 2016. The medical examiner found she suffered from morphine and despropionyl fentanyl intoxication and ruled her death an accident.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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