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Entries in Baltimore (16)

Thursday
Dec202012

Baltimore Police Chief Wants to Ban High-Capacity Firepower

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- High-capacity magazines are the deadliest of gun cartridges. They come in cases of 30, 40, 60 and even 120 rounds.

These magazines are maximum, economy-sized firepower packed into a steel cartridge. When strapped into a pistol or semi-automatic rifle, a shooter can fire non-stop until the magazine is empty. By then, the damage can be devastating.

That is why Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson wants to outlaw all but the smallest of these magazines. Johnson wants to limit them to a capacity of 10 rounds.

The fewer the bullets, the more often the shooter has to stop firing, eject the empty cartridge and load another one.

A lot can happen in the window of time it takes to reload, Johnson said.

"Folks that are being attacked have time to react, to close that distance in," he said. "I think any football player in America would like to have four-and-a-half seconds to get to the quarterback without any of the offensive players."

An expert shooter like a police officer can switch magazines in less than two seconds. But for a nervous, scared adolescent, it would take much longer, Johnson said, which can be crucial.

During the Tucson, Ariz., attack on Rep. Gabby Giffords, gunman Jared Loughner was wrestled down when he stopped shooting to reload his 9-millimeter pistol.

During the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting spree last July, police say James Holmes' assault came to an end when his semi-automatic rifle jammed.

"As we've seen in America today, there have been several attacks where that reload is vital," Johnson said. "Tragically, in the shooting of a congresswoman, the reload was instrumental."

"We've also seen this in Baltimore County, in a school shooting that we had, where the reload became very instrumental in allowing the teacher to actually tackle a student that was trying to reload a double-barreled shotgun," he said.

Police believe that last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Adam Lanza was armed with high-capacity magazines. He fired at least 30 times before having to stop to reload.

Johnson said there is no reason that the general public should have access to high-capacity magazines.

"I have to advise you that even for law enforcement, 100-round magazines, 50-round magazines, have no place for law enforcement," Johnson said. "Certainly, we believe that limiting a magazine to 10 rounds, what was in place from '94 to 2004, is wise and certainly could save lives in America."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov142012

Baltimore Bus Brawl Between Driver and Juvenile Passenger Caught on Tape

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- A Baltimore bus driver has been suspended following a brawl with a female student who the driver accused of "being disrespectful." The tussle was caught on tape and posted to YouTube.

When the video begins, the female bus driver is standing over the passenger and struggling with her as the teenager kicks and punches the bus driver. When the passenger stands up, the two wrestle their way to the back of the vehicle with the bus driver holding the girl by her arm and by her hair. The two struggled to the back of the bus with the girl throwing several punches at the driver's head and shoulder. The driver eventually pushes the girl into a corner seat.

The driver seems to be shouting, "You want to fight somebody?" The passenger answers, "No."

The passenger can also be heard saying, "Get off of me." Other passengers were shouting, videotaping and some laughter can be heard.

It is unclear what initiated the fight.

 

When the fighting stopped, the two women had an inaudible tense exchange before the bus driver returned to the front of the bus. "You shouldn't have jumped in my face," the passenger said.

Moments later, the driver can be heard saying, "It wasn't about that. It's about being disrespectful."

The incident occurred on Monday at around 2 p.m. and the video was posted to YouTube on Tuesday. It has been viewed over 106,000 times.

"The bus operator reported that an incident had occurred on her bus and then we got calls from media informing us that it has been posted on YouTube," Maryland Transit Administration spokesman Terry Owens told ABC News. "The report included some details, but I'm not going to discuss the content of that report."

Neither the bus driver nor the passenger have been identified. Owens said the the driver has been with the agency since 2003 and that the passenger involved was a student and a juvenile. He said no one was seriously injured.

The driver has been suspended without pay, pending the results of an investigation, according to Owens.

"We hold the safety of our passengers and employees as our highest priority at the MTA," he said. "Our employees are expected to respect this policy and passengers are expected to abide by the rules and policies of the agency when using our systems."

The incident is being investigated by the Maryland Transit Administration Police.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct252012

Baltimore-Area Bus Drivers Cited for Over 800 Dangerous Traffic Violations

George Doyle/Stockbyte(BALTIMORE) -- School bus drivers in the Baltimore area have been caught on camera committing dangerous traffic violations, including speeding and running red lights, which have potentially put the lives of thousands of school children at risk and led to hundreds of citations.

Traffic citations obtained by ABC affiliate WMAR that were issued to Baltimore City and County bus drivers in the past two years show drivers breaking the law, often with children onboard. Speed and red light cameras have caught drivers in the area barreling up to 40 miles per hour over the speed limit and blowing through lights across the city and county.

"They're a driver like everybody else. If they're speeding or going through a red light, cameras are going to take them as well," said Kristy Knuppel, a concerned parent.

Of at least 99 camera citations that were issued to public school bus drivers in Baltimore County, 19 citations were issued for red light violations and 80 were for speeding, with 37 of the tickets issued specifically to drivers operating within a school zone, which is by law a half-mile radius of a school.

Many citations for drivers who had repeated violations have been found. In an investigation launched by WMAR in Baltimore, at least 17 repeat offenders were found in the Baltimore County records, including a single bus that was cited five times in three months.

Baltimore City school records show at least 74 camera citations were issued in the same time frame. Eighteen of those tickets were issued for red light camera violations while 56 buses were cited for speeding.

The $40 tickets are issued only to vehicles recorded driving at least 12 mph over the speed limit, according to the Baltimore Sun, which reported that privately owned buses have received at least 800 automated speed citations in Baltimore City. The Sun reported that one bus was clocked at 74 mph.

Approximately 300 drivers are contracted to transport students in Baltimore County and Baltimore City, but the companies holding these contracts are not required to tell the districts when their drivers receive citations, WMAR reported.

Charles Herndon, a spokesman for Baltimore County Public Schools, told ABC News that the county has a progressive course of discipline for drivers that receive citations, which begins with a letter of reprimand and with repeated offenses can lead to dismissal. He said that in the county the drivers cover over 1,400 miles and 900 routes.

"When you take the mileage into consideration, it's a small number. But even one [citation] is too many," he said.

Herndon said that the county is now nearing the end of a five-year contract with its vendors, which he describes as "longstanding, reputable companies." Since the speed and red light cameras were installed in the county in the past few years, this was not a factor in the original contracts. As new contracts are negotiated with the three vendors Baltimore county uses, Herndon says they will find a way of "verifying who and how many" drivers received citations.

Herndon also noted that in instances where drivers received multiple citations, at the time of their offenses they were unaware the cameras were filming them. He said that though it's no excuse for speeding or running lights, it will influence future behavior.

"It's something that would help to moderate behavior of drivers that are in violation," he said. "And we'd hope drivers would not get into that position."

 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Alleged Baltimore School Shooter's Victim Has Down Syndrome

Baltimore County Police Department(WHITE MARSH, Md.) -- When Robert Gladden allegedly opened fire in the Perry Hall High School cafeteria, he critically injured Daniel Borowy, a 17-year-old who suffers from Down syndrome.

Trish Smelser, of Baltimore, Md., met Borowy's mother, Rosemary, at a Down syndrome support group when Borowy was a 1-year-old. Smelser's daughter, who is best friends with Borowy and a fellow classmate, also has Down syndrome.

During the shooting at Perry Hall High School in the Baltimore suburb of White Marsh, Smelser's daughter was sitting at the next table in the cafeteria. She had her back to the shooter, just like Borowy. School aids pushed students under the table to protect them.

Borowy's mother declined to talk with ABC News, but Smelser discussed the boy after speaking with the upset mom.

Smelser was shocked when she heard about the shooting.

"I was just dying for Rosemary and Daniel, feeling so bad," Smelser told ABC News. "It's just a horrible thing to go through, but when you have a special needs child, it's just extra devastating. They don't communicate as well. It's just so hard."

Although Borowy is still listed in critical condition, Smelser is confident he will recover because he is "so strong."

"He's doing good. He's awake and he can wiggle his fingers and toes," Smelser's daughter, Stephanie, told ABC News. Borowy suffered from two broken ribs and a bruised lung, she said.

Friends of Borowy are reaching out to Lady Gaga on Facebook and Twitter urging the singer to visit the 17-year-old because Daniel is a huge fan of the pop star.

"He loves Lady Gaga. He has a suitcase packed and says he's going to go to California to marry her," Smelser's daughter, Stephanie, told ABC News.

Police believe when Gladden, 15, opened fire in the school cafeteria Monday he shot randomly and was not aiming for Borowy.

Gladden was charged as an adult Tuesday with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault. He is locked up without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson, Md., Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson said in a news conference Tuesday.

The sophomore left a grisly clue to his alleged intentions on his Facebook Monday morning when he wrote, "First day of school, last day of my life." On his page, he lists his employer as "The Manson Family" with the description "murder suicide."

Hours later, police said, he twice fired a shotgun in the school's cafeteria.

Gladden does not have a lawyer yet, according to the State's Attorney's office. He has a preliminary hearing set for Sept. 7.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug282012

Alleged Baltimore High School Shooter Charged as an Adult

Hemera/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- Baltimore County police have charged a 15-year-old student as an adult for the shooting at a high school on Monday that left a 17-year-old critically wounded.

Robert Wayne Gladden is being charged with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault for opening fire in Perry Hall High School's cafeteria on Monday, according to police.  Gladden is being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson, Md.

Additional updates are scheduled to be released at a news conference later Tuesday.

Gladden allegedly brought a disassembled shotgun to school on the first day of class, put the weapon together on campus and entered the cafeteria where he's accused of shooting and wounding another student.

A teacher lunged at the student to stop the alleged shooting, but a second round was discharged before the teacher pinned the boy against a wall, police said on Monday.

The school was put on lockdown and then evacuated.

The victim, who has yet to be identified, was flown to Baltimore Regional Hospital Shock Trauma and is listed in critical condition.

Several other students suffered minor, non-shooting injuries during the incident.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun212012

Family of Baltimore Girl Struck by Bullet Sues Ankle Monitoring Company

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE, Md.) -- The mother of a Baltimore girl who was shot in the head by a juvenile offender wearing an ankle monitor while under house arrest is suing the state supplier of monitoring anklets, claiming the company was aware that its technology had flaws.

Raven Wyatt was 5-years-old when she was struck by a bullet in July 2009 that was a result of a juvenile offender escaping from his home while under GPS surveillance.

The event left Raven with permanent brain damage.

"She's functional, she can sort of talk, she can play," said W. Charles Bailey Jr., the family's lawyer. "But she has speech difficulties. She has problems with the movement of her limbs. She can't walk or play normally."

Bailey estimates it will cost between $6.2 million and $7.1 million to provide care for Raven for the rest of her life.

Now, Raven's mother, Danielle Brooks, is suing iSECUREtrac, the Nebraska-based company that serves as Maryland's supplier of GPS tracking devices, in federal court for failing to "provide accurate and continuous real-time violation alerts of juveniles who had violated the terms and conditions of home detention orders," according to the lawsuit.

The family seeks $10 million for each of the seven claims against the company.

The shooter, Lamont Davis, was under house arrest at the time for robbery and assault charges. According to the lawsuit, Davis was a member of the Crip street gang, and had a long criminal history that began at the age of 10.

He was monitored with a state-issued iSECUREtrac anklet, but there is evidence that he had previously left home while wearing the tracker, according to court documents.

Maryland's Department of Juvenile Services uses the technology as an alternative to detention as part of its treatment for juvenile offenders.

"There appears to be some flaws in the system, and it appears that some folks were aware of this," said Bailey. "Even though they were aware of it, steps weren't taken and warrants weren't made and dangerous juveniles were able to leave the house."

But the crux of the suit is about safety, said Bailey.

"You can't be selling a product that is supposed to be saving people money if a little girl is going to get shot," he said.

In 2010, Davis was found guilty of first degree attempted murder in Raven's shooting, second degree attempted murder, the use of a handgun in committing a crime and possession of a firearm by minor. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The reliability of Davis' GPS records was a point of confusion for prosecutors and defense counsel during his trial. Bailey said both attorneys were thrown off by the tracker software's short range of motion.

"There would be all these monitoring violations once you got past 150 feet," he said.

"This is a big part of the problem. Was he or wasn't he there?" said Bailey. "When you have a juvenile [under GPS monitoring], its one thing if it's Martha Stewart, its holy other if it's a kid with a gun."

Bailey said he had spoken with an expert who informed him that the the iSECUREtrac system gave a large number of false positives across the board, showing that some offenders were in their homes when they were not, and vice versa.

But according to Donald DeVore, secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services in 2009, after an internal review of the iSECURE system, no major faults were found.

"I think that some people unfortunately have the impression that if you put somebody on this system, that it's immediately going to result in an immediate response," he said. "We did develop certain safeguards to put in place to be able to respond at a rate much quicker than most other departments in the U.S.

"It really is not intended to be a program in and of itself," DeVore said of the ankle monitoring system. "It's intended to be part of a level of supervision. It has to be supported with community service, visitation and court appearances."

But DeVore said it was possible for a juvenile to evade the system.

"When a juvenile goes off the grid, so to speak, depending on the level of service you're receiving, it will notify you that the juvenile has stepped outside of their exclusionary zone, he said. But "some systems can be tampered with."

The Department of Juvenile Services has had a contract with iSECUREtrac since August 2008 for GPS equipment and technical assistance, Juvenile Services spokesman Jay Cleary said in a statement. "GPS is a tool the department's community detention officers use for youth the court has ordered live in the community with electronic monitoring," said Cleary.

But Cleary would not comment on the technical aspects of the iSECURE system.

Representatives from the GPS tracking company could not be reached for comment.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court on June 11. The state of Maryland is not a defendant.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr042012

Mega Millions 'Winner' Has Press Conference to Tell Reporters to 'Go Home'

ABC News(BALTIMORE) -- The Baltimore woman who claims she bought one of the three winning Mega Millions tickets had a news conference Wednesday, showed up late and then had her lawyer tell the reporters to "go home."

Merlande Wilson, 37 and the mother of seven, is the only person so far to tentatively make a claim for a share of the $656 million jackpot. But she has also raised eyebrows by repeatedly saying she has to find her ticket -- something most people would be safeguarding.

Wilson's lawyer, Edward Smith, said he cannot vouch for the ticket.

"I have not seen it and in fact I don't think I want to see it until the lottery people have it in their hot little hands," Smith said.

Wilson showed up late for a new conference called by her lawyer and sat slouched in a chair behind Smith. She muttered and shook or nodded her head depending on the question. She also played on her cellphone and often stared down to the ground.

When the news conference finally began, the lawyer told the press that they "should all go home." Smith said there was legal work to do and he wanted things to settle down.

Wilson, who works at a McDonald's restaurant, has said that she is still trying to find her ticket and, at another point, suggested she has hidden it somewhere in the restaurant.

The possibility that she has won the bonanza -- her share of a one-time payment would be $157.8 million -- has prompted some of her co-workers to claim that they deserve a share of the money because they bought the tickets together.

Smith would not address the claims by Wilson's co-workers.

The focus on the restaurant has prompted McDonalds to add two security guards to the store.

The other two winners bought their tickets in Illinois and Kansas.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Maryland Student Arrested After Threatening 'Shooting Rampage'

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- A University of Maryland student has been arrested for allegedly threatening to go on a “shooting rampage,” campus police tell the Baltimore Sun.

The newspaper says 19-year-old Alexander Song posted a comment online Saturday night stating, “I will be on a shooting rampage tomorrow on campus.”

According to a police press release, Song also stated, “Hopefully I kill enough people to make it to national news.”

Authorities say police became aware of Song’s threats on reddit.com and omegle.com Saturday night after a former student and two other people read them and informed the university.

Song was not armed when he was taken into custody Sunday morning and transported to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

He faces a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the orderly conduct of the activities, administration or classes at the campus, up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec222011

Unaccompanied Minor Ends Up in Wrong State After Flight Mix-Up

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- What was supposed to be a normal flight to visit her grandparents for the holidays turned into a confusing mix-up for 9-year-old Chloe Boyce.

The girl’s itinerary was originally supposed to send her from Nashville, Tenn., to LaGuardia Airport airport in New York, making a stop in Baltimore along the way.  Due to a fog condition, a two-hour connection in Columbus, Ohio was added to the flight.  This is where confusion set in for Chloe.

“Chloe often flies by herself to see her grandparents in Connecticut, or her dad in Rhode Island.  We always use Southwest,” says Chloe’s mother, Elena Kerr.

“Whenever she flies alone, we go up to a ticket agent, and the ticket agent goes over the rules with her,” Kerr said.  “We always go over how many stops there will be.”

Chloe knew that this time, two stops were to be made, with the second one being her destination in New York.  When Chloe arrived at the new second stop in Baltimore she got off the plane.

Kerr received a call from her sister who was supposed to pick up Chloe at the airport.

“Where is Chloe?” her sister asked.  “I went into panic mode,” Kerr said.

She called the airline, and after 30 minutes of waiting she finally got a hold of someone.  She was told that she was sent e-mails with the new details of her daughter’s flight.

“I never received a call or e-mail to say what happened to my daughter,” Kerr says.

The airline outlined their policy in this situation, stating that although it is atypical, they attempted to inform the girl’s parents of her new itinerary.

“Our unaccompanied minor policy does not include the contacting of guardians when a flight is delayed or rerouted but we typically do our best to keep guardians notified when a disruption in scheduled service occurs,” the airline said. “Unfortunately, we did not connect with the parents of the customer traveling in this situation.  We are in the process of conducting our own internal investigation to identify why the additional outreach was not made.  We apologize for any concern that the flight disruption may have caused.”

Chloe ended up spending an extra three hours in Baltimore.  Kerr says that once alerted to the situation, a pilot in Baltimore took Chloe off the plane and worked to make her feel at ease.

Kerr says she is debating on whether or not to let her daughter fly Southwest again.

“Southwest was very apologetic,” she says, adding that she has never had a problem with the airline in the past.  Still, she says, “no one has been able to tell me why I wasn’t called.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct102011

Bleach Fight Shuts Down Walmart in Baltimore

Baltimore County Police Department (BALTIMORE) -- A Saturday morning of shopping turned into an emergency hazmat situation at a Baltimore Walmart where two patrons threw bleach and disinfectant at one another, officials said.

Baltimore County Police responded to a call at about 10:48 a.m. Saturday and found two women fighting -- supposedly over a guy -- inside the store.

The bleach and disinfectant created toxic fumes, forcing the immediate evacuation of the entire Arbutus store, officials told ABC News affiliate ABC 2.  It closed for several hours.

Fire, EMS and hazardous materials units were dispatched to the scene, as well as 10 medics.

Nineteen people reportedly received treatment, including three Walmart employees. One person was taken to the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment, officials said.

Three Walmart employees were being treated for respiratory problems, a Walmart spokeswoman told ABC News.

According to Baltimore County police, 33-year-old Theresa Monique Jefferson chased a woman into the Walmart, knocked her to the ground and began pouring bleach and ammonia on her. Most likely unknown to the attacker, the combination of the two common household chemicals forms a toxic gas.

Jefferson was arrested and charged with first-and second-degree assault, theft under $100 and malicious destruction of property.  She is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $350,000 bail.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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