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Police seek shooter

May 24, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Police were searching Wednesday for a man wanted in the shooting death of a Greencastle, Pa., man late Tuesday inside a bar on North Jonathan Street, Hagerstown Police Sgt. Paul Kifer said.

Christoper Jason Ayala, 23, was pronounced dead at Washington County Hospital after he was shot around 11 p.m. Tuesday inside Zipper's, police said.

Officers were searching for a black male, 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 230 pounds, police said. He was believed to be wearing dark clothing, police said.

Twenty to 30 people were inside the bar when Ayala was shot, Kifer said. Police have not identified a motive for the shooting and were still trying to figure out what happened inside the bar, Kifer said.

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"That's why people need to come forward," he said. "Sometimes, even things that don't seem important may be important," Kifer said.

Officers interviewed witnesses at police headquarters after the shooting, Kifer said, and eight investigators were working the case Wednesday, he said.

Detective Andrew Lewis, the city's gang intelligence officer, also was providing information, Kifer said. Police don't believe the shooting was gang-related, but Lewis has a "wealth of intelligence" about Hagerstown's streets, Kifer said.

In March 2002, Ayala was charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, and possession of marijuana, according to charging documents. Officers said 21 pieces of crack cocaine fell out of a bag that Ayala pulled out of the back of his pants, documents show.

Ayala pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute in Washington County Circuit Court and was sentenced to eight years in prison with all but four years suspended, according to court documents. Ayala served his time at the Herman L. Toulson Correctional Boot Camp in Jessup, Md.People gathered Wednesday on Jonathan Street were reluctant to discuss the shooting.

"Get involved in that stuff, you'll be next," said a woman who asked not to be identified.

In the afternoon, scores of people gathered outside the bar. A little girl with roller-skate shoes cried as she slid along the sidewalk. Other people exchanged hugs.

Some mourners posed for pictures next to a memorial on a step outside the bar's door. A woman wearing a black shirt, leggings and shoes walked past three police officers as she carried a bouquet.

Stuffed animals sat on a chair, and candles and flowers crowded around a photograph of a young man. Two angel statues sat on either side of a crucifix.

A note on notebook paper taped to a door said, "In loving memory of Christopher."

Above the memorial, a sign said the bar is monitored by a security system.

The glass in the bar's window was shattered below what appeared to be a bullethole.

Bar co-owner Renell Jones of Frederick, Md., said he plans to add interior cameras before the bar reopens. It currently has none, he said.

A 24-year-old man was shot in the lower abdomen Oct. 6 while in the bar.

"It's just like any other place. Sometimes we have our problems; most of the time we don't have any problems," Jones said.

Vanessa Hundley, who lives next door to the bar, said she knew Ayala from the neighborhood.

"His demeanor, he was a quiet guy, very laid back. Basically, what I'm saying is, I don't know what he could have done to deserve that," Hundley said.

Police ask anyone with information to call Detective Patricia Moulton or Detective Chris Kayser at the Hagerstown Police Department at 301-790-3700, ext. 234. Information may be e-mailed to crimetip@hagerstownpd.org.

Detectives ask that anyone who was in or around the tavern during the shooting make contact with police as soon as possible. A cash reward is being offered for information as to the shooter's identity.




Memorial barbecue planned



The co-owner of a Hagerstown bar where a man was fatally shot Tuesday said he plans to sponsor a memorial barbeque Saturday.

Renell Jones said he will provide free food and sodas during the barbeque for people who live in the neighborhood of Zipper's at 331 N. Jonathan St.

Christopher Jason Ayala, 23, of Greencastle, Pa., was shot in the bar Tuesday, according to Hagerstown Police.

"I didn't know him, but he frequented the bar, and a lot of people in this area knew him," Jones said Wednesday.

The barbeque starts at 2 p.m. in the grassy area next to the bar.

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