- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 8, 2004

Authorities charged two people in a drive-by shooting after a charity basketball game in suburban Baltimore and were looking for two others yesterday.

The shooting at Baltimore County’s Randallstown High School on Friday left four teenagers wounded — one critically, police said.

It also left authorities struggling with the sensitive issue of race.

Randallstown is in an affluent, upwardly mobile, white-collar community north of the city where more than 60 percent of the residents have a college degree or better, said County Councilman Kenneth Oliver.

The majority of those residents also happen to be black. Many moved to this suburb in the hope of escaping both the reality and the stigma of urban violence.

“You bet there’s sensitivity about the perception,” Mr. Oliver said. “Some people think that just because the community happens to be African American, trouble just naturally is going to follow. That’s not the case. This is an incident that could have happened anywhere.”

County Executive Jim Smith touched lightly on that perception at a press conference yesterday. Authorities called the press conference to announce that a 20-year-old Owings Mills man was in custody and a 17-year-old student at the school was being sought on a warrant. Police also were looking for two unidentified suspects.

But authorities repeatedly stressed that the shooting could have occurred anywhere and that the honest, law-abiding residents of Randallstown were as shocked by the incident as anyone.

“This is a strong, well-educated, stable and affluent community,” Mr. Smith said. “They are as shocked by what happened as any other community in Baltimore County.”

Asked why he felt it necessary to repeat that, Mr. Smith insisted, “I’d be saying the same if it had happened anyplace else in the county — this is like the Littleton [Colo.] community after the shooting at Columbine High School.”

County Police Chief Terrence Sheridan said the shooting stemmed from an earlier name-calling incident at the school involving a girl.

Friday afternoon, a car with four people inside pulled into the school parking lot just as a charity basketball event was ending and students were filing out of the school gymnasium, Chief Sheridan said.

Witnesses told police that a heavyset driver and a passenger got out of the car and began fighting with several students. Losing the fistfight, the driver of the car retreated and retrieved a semiautomatic gun from its trunk, Chief Sheridan said. The driver fired several shots, then handed the gun to the passenger, who also fired. The car, a black, late-model BMW with tinted windows and spinning hubcaps, then sped off, leaving one of the shooters to flee on foot, Chief Sheridan said.

Within an hour of the shootings, an officer spotted a BMW that fit the description of the one witnesses saw in the school parking lot. The car was empty, but bystanders’ descriptions of the three men who bailed out led police to the man in custody.

Police said Ronald Johnson, 20, of Owings Mills, was being held without bail on four counts of attempted murder, first-degree assault, and assault with a handgun.

Charged on an arrest warrant is 17-year-old Matthew McCullough, of Randallstown. Police described Matthew as a student at the school.

By yesterday evening, two of the shooting victims remained hospitalized. Two had been treated and released.

William Thomas was shot several times in the neck and remained in critical condition. Andre Millison was upgraded to fair condition yesterday. Both were at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Alexander Brown, 17, a basketball player, and Marcus McClain, the school’s star quarterback, were treated and released.

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