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Body of shooting victim found in West End apartment

July 07, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

and BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writers

A body of a man was found in a public housing complex apartment in Hagerstown's West End Monday, Hagerstown City Police said.

The tenant at the 903 Lanvale St. apartment called police after she discovered the body before 1 p.m., said Sgt. Ronald Graves.

Dr. Arthur Horn, a deputy medical examiner, said the body was that of a black man in his early 30s. The man had been shot in the head and the body had been at the apartment for at least a few hours but no more than 24 hours, he said.

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Graves said police tentatively have identified the man, but said they will not know for certain until fingerprints are sent to the FBI for confirmation.

Police investigators spent much of the day interviewing neighbors and searching 903 Lanvale St. and 901 Lanvale St., an adjacent apartment that is vacant.

Horn said there are "definitely some unusual circumstances surrounding this case," but would not elaborate.

The apartment where the body was found is part of Westview Homes, a complex that consists of about 400 units, according to Hagerstown Housing Authority Executive Director Ted Shankle.

The occupant of 903 Lanvale St. is Tina Lynn, whose name is on the lease as the occupant, along with her 1-year-old child, according to George Siebert, Hagerstown Housing Authority security chief.

"She had been in and out of there for some time," Siebert said, noting that she often stayed elsewhere. "She had asked us to keep checks on the place because other people were often there."

Neighbors who live in the 900 block of Lanvale Street said their neighborhood has deteriorated, especially over the last two or three years.

Police would not speculate on a motive for the shooting.

Several neighbors said they believe the shooting may have been drug related.

"That's a shame when someone gets killed over this stuff," said Sherry Moser, 17, who recently left the complex to move to West Virginia.

Some said drug dealing in the neighborhood has become brazen and frequent.

Others complained about broken glass and trash in the street and said drug sales are conducted even though the complex is patrolled by Hagerstown Housing Authority security guards.

Shankle said officials recognize a crime problem exists.

"Westview's been a problem area for a long time," he said. "We do the best we can."

The security guards are present only as "a deterrent. What else can these guys do? They don't have weapons," Shankle said.

"I've lived here since I was 3 years old,'' said Debbie Hite, who lives across the street from the apartment where the body was found. "It was a real nice neighborhood when I was a kid."

The young mother of four said that has changed. She said a man approached her last summer as she was parking her car and asked her if she wanted to buy drugs, even though three of her children were in the car.

"I've got these kids to protect," Hite said. "It's just not safe to let them outside anymore."

Lisa Gatrell, 23, said the last two years have been particularly bad.

"My mother doesn't even want to come visit me anymore," she said.

Shankle said it used to be difficult to evict people convicted of crimes. But under a "one-strike" policy that has been in place for at least six months, residents can be kicked out after their first conviction.

Gatrell said her young son has seen drug deals from the back yard. She said she feels stuck, since moving to a private apartment would require money for a deposit and moving expenses.

"I don't want to live here anymore, but I have no choice," she said. "I wish I could get out of here. I do."

Gatrell said many of the drug dealers are from out of town but stay with residents.

Hite said she is discouraged because the drugs give a bad name to the many good people that live in the neighborhood.

"People look down on us because of this," she said. "And that's not right."

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