A fatal shooting is rare along the tree-lined streets that lead to historic Federal Hill park, where residents and tourists take in sweeping views of the Inner Harbor. So it was especially unusual when two people were killed there on consecutive days in the summer of 2008. There hasn't been another such incident since then.
Four years later, police say they've solved one of the murders, arresting 32-year-old Dundalk resident Jason Hamel for the June 20, 2008 killing of 35-year-old Keyva Bluitt.
Bluitt was sitting in a vehicle at about 9:15 p.m. when witnesses said they saw several people jump into a blue Toyota and then heard a shot fired. The door of the car swung open and Bluitt, who was shot in the chest, was pushed into the street. Police say the gunman fled on foot.
A police spokesman said he didn't have details on what cracked the case after all this time. But charging documents show the motive for the shooting was a drug deal that went bad. Hamel was sitting in a jail cell in Baltimore County at the time police filed the charges, awaiting trial on drug charges there.
Records show Hamel has been charged multiple times with handgun-related charges in recent years in both the city and Baltimore County, with charges dropped each time. In 2005, he was found guilty of using a firearm in a drug trafficking crime, but received probation.
Hamel has been in the news before, too: In 1999, at age 19, he was sentenced to six years in prison for firing a shotgun shell into friend Billy Joe Ace's forehead and dumping the body in nearby woods. He was drunk and high at the time, and said the shooting was an accident. He lied to his friend's mother, and cleaned up the Odenton home so thoroughly that he recarpeted and patched the wall, according to a report by The Sun's Andrea F. Siegel at the time.
"I am truly sorry for what happened," Hamel said. "We were out of control; we were drunk and all."
Hamel pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, but court records show he later won a retrial, and in 2003 pleaded guilty again to a term of two years.