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Police probe shooting of man in Hagerstown

November 15, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN - A man who was shot in a van at the Washington Gardens apartment complex overnight Tuesday was on life support late Wednesday, according to his mother.

Barbara Samuelson of Hollidaysburg, Pa., said her son, Christopher William Samuelson, 43, will be an organ donor.

Hagerstown Police - who did not identify Samuelson in information they released about the shooting - did not know why he was at the apartment complex off Security Road in Hagerstown.

Sgt. Paul Kifer said he was sitting in the driver's seat of a van with a Pennsylvania license plate in a parking lot at the complex.

He apparently was shot one time, Kifer said.

Barbara Samuelson said her son - a conrete and brick mason who went from city to city, job to job - and his brother were in Hagerstown to help build a grocery store.

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Police went to the apartment complex at about 12:45 a.m. after receiving a report of a gunshot.

Officers and detectives asked residents if they saw or heard anything, but got "spotty information," Kifer said. They are asking anyone with information to call Hagerstown City Police at 301-790-3700, ext. 234, or send an anonymous tip to crimetip@hagerstownpd.org.

Residents interviewed by The Herald-Mail at the complex on Wednesday also didn't know much about the shooting.

"I gotta get out of here," one woman said in a nearby parking lot. "There's too many of these."

At least three other people have been shot - two fatally - at Washington Gardens in the last three years.

Jackson Agustin Rodriguez, 22, of the Bronx, N.Y., was found dead and another Bronx man was wounded in an apartment there in July 2006.

In March 2004, Jonathan M. Dennis, 19, of Waynesboro, Pa., was shot and killed in a courtyard there after an armed robbery.

"It's alarming," Kifer said. "It's on our radar to find out ways we can curb this kind of activity at this location."

He said police patrol the complex as frequently as possible, but with the city growing, officers can't be there as often as they'd like.

Last year, after Rodriguez was shot, a spokeswoman for the complex's Boston-based owner, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) talked about security improvements that had been made.

POAH spokeswoman Karen L. Blomquist said at the time the company had made $2.3 million in improvements at the complex in the previous eight months and was installing security lighting that week.

However, Kristin B. Aleshire, a city councilman at the time, said it was "very clear" the owner was "failing this community and doing so from afar."

On Wednesday, Blomquist said the lighting upgrade was finished.

She added that the company is always looking for ways to get better and to keep Washington Gardens' residents safe.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the only known connection between the shooting and the complex was that it happened in the parking lot, Blomquist said.

All of Washington Gardens' 100 apartments are offered to residents under the Section 8 rental assistance program for low-income households, according to a 2005 registry posted at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's Web site.

Staff writer Heather Keels contributed to this story.

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