- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BALTIMORE (AP) — A long-standing feud about house rules between two octogenarians at a seniors’ high rise led to a fatal shooting, Baltimore police said.

The shooting Monday morning apparently occurred after a desk clerk at the building refused to allow a resident’s granddaughter to board an elevator without a visitor’s pass.

Thomas Batty, 66, who lived in the building and worked as a desk clerk, was shot once in the head as he sat behind the front desk on the first floor.

Charged with first-degree murder is Clyde Lewis, 80, who also lives on the 12th floor.

Detectives said Mr. Lewis is one of the oldest homicide suspects in memory.

Officer Troy Harris, a police spokesman, said the argument began Sunday and continued Monday morning. Police arrived shortly before 8 a.m. Monday to find Mr. Lewis sitting in the courtyard of the building.

Residents told the Baltimore Sun that the two argued frequently about house rules.

“They were always after each other,” said Olivia Riggins, 79, who has lived in the building for seven years.

Miss Riggins said she was in the lobby to check her mail as the two argued.

As she walked by the front desk, she saw Mr. Lewis waving a gun and Mr. Batty standing in front of him. A short while later, she said, she heard two gunshots.

The Rev. Henry Sanders, another tenant, said Mr. Batty, who worked the midnight-to-8-a.m. shift at the front desk, refused to let one of Mr. Lewis’ granddaughters enter the elevator until she had a visitor’s pass.

“Mr. Lewis came down here, and he was furious, is what Mr. Batty told me,” Mr. Sanders said. “Batty said he threatened him, but neither one of us took him seriously.”

Other residents told the Sun that Mr. Batty had a reputation for zealously manning the front desk in his four years on the job.

Mr. Sanders said Mr. Batty loved his job.

“As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Batty did his duties,” he said.

Mr. Sanders said Mr. Lewis was a good neighbor who grew tomatoes and cabbage behind the apartment building and shared them with other residents.

“He always had a beautiful garden,” he said.

Leo W. Burroughs Jr., co-head of the apartments’ tenants group, said the two let their personal differences get out of control.

“Both of them were great guys, as far as I’m concerned,” Mr. Burroughs said. “It’s really turned us upside down.”

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