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One dead, one shot in Hagerstown apartment

July 25, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN - Children played under and around police tape stretched in front of a Washington Gardens Apartments building Monday morning as police investigated the death of one man and the shooting of another man at an apartment Sunday night.

The identities of the men were being withheld Monday pending notification of their families, Hagerstown Police Department Lt. Mike King said.

No arrests had been made by Monday evening.

King said police responding to an 11:15 p.m. call that shots were fired in the 1022 Security Road building were directed by neighbors to Apartment C on the third floor, where they had to force open the door to get inside.

Police found one man dead and another man shot, he said. King said he could not disclose whether other people were in the apartment at the time of the shooting or whether someone other than the men police found was involved in the shooting.

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Neither victim, both described as black men, held the lease to the apartment, he said.

The surviving victim was listed in critical condition Monday evening at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, police said.

A reward is being offered for information about the shooting, King said. He asks anyone with information about the shooting to call 301-790-3700.

On Monday morning, neighbors stood outside talking and watching children play in the grassy areas outside the building. Some children - residents of 1022 Security Road - pushed toys under police tape that surrounded the building where the shooting occurred.

A Hagerstown Police Department K-9 officer walked a dog around the wooded areas skirting the buildings and around the perimeter of the complex.

Residents of the apartment complex said they have endured their share of violence in the past few years.

In March, a man was shot in the leg in front of 1006 Security Road inside the complex. Two years ago in March, Jonathan Dennis, 19, was killed by gunfire in the courtyard outside 958 Security Road.

Debbie Akers, 37, said she wasn't home Sunday night when the shots were fired, but she is not concerned about the shooting.

"People out here, they bring it to themselves," she said. "I stay in the house. I don't come outside."

Ashley Smith, 22, feels differently. She said she's planning to move.

"This is the second time around this has happened," she said.

A woman who lives in a building near where the shooting occurred said neighbors in that section of the complex are pretty tight. Typically, they are sitting outside around the time the shooting occurred, but they weren't Sunday night.

"Her and I heard bangs but we just figured it was doors slamming, and then I heard what sounded like a tow truck," the woman said while standing with a neighbor.

The woman said she wasn't able to see anything because there is not enough lighting in the complex.

Security lighting and cameras are to be installed in the complex soon, said Karen Blomquist, communications manager for POAH, Preservation of Affordable Housing, the owners of the complex.

Blomquist said that POAH has owned Washington Gardens Apartments, a subsidized housing complex, since 2004 and is aware of security issues there, but said calls to the police department have decreased since they took ownership. Increased security lighting "has been on our list since we bought it," she said.

In the past eight months, POAH has made $2.3 million in improvements to the structures and is installing security lighting at the complex this week.

"We have grave concerns about the rest of the residents in the neighborhood," Blomquist said. "Situations occur on the outside that can happen in any neighborhood."

Blomquist said that a property manager came in Monday while on vacation to help police with the investigation.

"We purchased this property in order to ensure the people living there have safe, secure and affordable homes," she said.

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