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Nonfatal shootings cut in half in 2001

January 07, 2002

Nonfatal shootings cut in half in 2001



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI
kimy@herald-mail.com


Nonfatal shootings in the city were down by half in 2001 from a year earlier but it's too soon to tell if the drop will continue, according to Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith.

"We have to see how things play out over a period of time, but in general, things are moving in the right direction," said Smith.

Hagerstown City Police investigated 10 nonfatal shootings in the city in 2000, seven of which were in the HotSpots area, said Smith.

Two murders took place in the city in 2000: one was a murder/suicide in Noland Village and another was a drive-by shooting on Jonathan Street.

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Smith said many of the shootings in 2000 were drug-related and resulted from dealers "jockeying for position."

In 2001, city police investigated one murder. A New York man was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Tyrentni Jaunhea West, 21, at Westview Homes.

Robert Francis Stevenson Jr., 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was arrested in connection with the shooting, police said.

There were five nonfatal shootings in the city:

July 6 - Luis Caldera, 22, of 50 Rochester Place, was shot several times after arguing with two men on Noland Drive around 4 a.m. The shooters then fled the scene.

The shooting occurred in the 1000 block of Noland Drive, where police saw blood leading to a door. They found the injured Caldera inside.

Caldera was treated for gunshot wounds to both hands. The hand wounds occurred as he attempted to protect his groin from the shooter, police said.

Jermaine Smith of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with attempted first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two handgun violations.

July 13 - Two suspects pushed their way into a Hagerstown home and shot Jamie Andrea Frye before fleeing north toward Adams Avenue.

Frye, 25, of Hagerstown, was at 664 Hayes Ave. when one shot was fired, entering Frye's hand as he apparently put it up to fend off the shot that then entered his upper abdomen.

August 16 - Hagerstown City Police received a report of shots being fired in the 300 block of Jonathan Street just before 5 p.m. When officers arrived, they couldn't find a victim or an assailant.

Later that evening, Washington County Hospital employees notified police that Ronald Anthony Brown, 23, formerly of Doub Way, was there for treatment of a gunshot wound to the back and released.

On Sept. 7, Anthony Allen Williams Jr., 22, of no fixed address, was taken into custody in St. Lucie County, Fla., on charges of attempted first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, carrying a handgun and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime in connection with the Hagerstown shooting, Florida officials said.

Williams was identified as a suspect through the local investigation.

Nov. 21 - A robbery at the J Street Bar turned violent Nov. 21, when the robber and the victim exchanged gunfire outside the business.

The bullets didn't hit anyone.

The victim, Joel Vicant Smith, 28, of Fort Pierce, Fla., was charged with discharging a firearm in the city limits and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon.

Sean Sandy, 22, of 1911 Park Place, Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged with armed robbery, general robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, theft, use of a handgun in a crime of violence and wearing or carrying a handgun on a person.

Nov. 24 - Damion Maurice Womble, 23, address unknown, was found lying on the sidewalk on Central Avenue with gunshot wounds on his right upper leg, right kneecap, front left hip and right middle finger, police said.

Womble was released Dec. 6 from University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Police charged James Albert Woods, 23, whose last known address was in the first block of East Franklin Street; Steven Todd Bowie, whose last known address was in the 400 block of West Antietam Street; and James McNair, 24, of the first block of Madison Avenue, with attempted first-degree murder, assault and several handgun violations.

The robbery/shooting at the J Street Bar and the August shooting on Jonathan Street were the only incidents to occur in the HotSpots area, a designated high-crime portion of the city, said Smith.

The drop in shootings in 2001 was due to many known, violent drug dealers being incarcerated and a decrease in demand for drugs in the city, said Smith.

"They're not lined up in cars with West Virginia tags waiting to buy drugs anymore," he said.

Undercover drug sales and buys have helped police put dealers in jail and direct many users toward treatment, he said.

It is becoming known to users in the Tri-State area that Hagerstown City Police are more aggressive about drug arrests than in past, he said.

"We are gradually training them to go elsewhere," he said.

Despite the progress police made, Smith said they have a long way to go.

"We haven't won the war but we are making headway," he said.

The drop in crime has been helped by prompt arrests resulting from the department's criminal investigation division, said Smith.

"They've done a lot of hard work" he said.

CID has been able to make the arrests because of teamwork, said Lt. Rick Johnson, who has headed Hagerstown's CID since August.

"We share information with the Street Crimes Unit, Narcotics Task Force and patrol division, which puts more information at our disposal," said Johnson.

The visible police presence will be a deterrent to criminals and help crack down on the open-air drug trade and nuisance crimes like loitering and littering, he said.

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