- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2007


Man dies in fire trying to save mom

A man who ran back into his burning home to rescue his 77-year-old mother died yesterday, and his mother didn’t survive either.

Firefighters were called to the row house in Northwest about 6:45 a.m. and found a 30-foot wall of flames at the back of the building, fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.

“Firefighters took great personal risk and went in,” he said.

Witnesses had told rescuers that they thought Ramsi Gilbert, 39, was trying to save his mother. Firefighters found his body badly burned.

They rescued Letha Gilbert, 77, but she died at a hospital.

“Obviously, it’s very devastating,” Mr. Etter said. “Our advice is always to never go back into a burning home for any reason.”

Neighbors said Mr. Gilbert knew what he was doing when he ran back in the house.

“I think that was brave of him,” Al Rose said. “It’s just too bad he wasn’t able to save her.”

Joyce Perkins, another neighbor, said Mrs. Gilbert “just loved her sons to death.

“She was a very sweet lady — always had something kind to say to people.”

Investigators had not determined the cause of the fire, but they said nothing appeared to be suspicious. Two other persons who lived in the house were not home at the time.

The home did not have a smoke detector. Firefighters returned to the neighborhood yesterday afternoon to give away smoke detectors to any residents who needed them.

The adjoining homes were damaged, but firefighters kept the fire from spreading down the entire block, Mr. Etter said. Damage was expected to surpass $200,000.



Six killed in city over two days

The weekend was an especially deadly one with six persons killed over two days in the city, police reported.

Early Saturday morning, Qasim Kaba, 29, was found dead inside a home in the 2500 block of Terra Firma Road, apparently stabbed to death.

About an hour later, John J. Christian, 20, was fatally shot at the Top Shelf Lounge in the 3300 block of Old Frederick Road. He died at the scene. A woman was also shot in the foot.

About 11 a.m. Saturday, Brian Smith-Hopkins was found shot in the chest in the 2300 block of East Oliver Street. He later died.

At 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Tyrone Jones, 26, was shot in the 1500 block of North Woodyear. He, too, later died.

At 4:30 p.m. yesterday, two men were shot in the 3400 block of Belair Road. Both were pronounced dead at hospitals. Their names were not released.

The killings brought the number of homicides in Baltimore this year to 221.


Man robbed in front of bank

Two men, including a man who had walked away from a correctional facility, robbed a customer outside a Clarksville bank, Howard County police said.

Police said the two men approached the victim, who was making a business bank deposit at the Citizens National Bank. One man hit the victim and took a bank bag, then they drove off, police said.

An officer spotted the vehicle and followed it onto westbound Route 32, where it veered off the road and into a ditch. Both men were caught after they bailed out.

Police charged Antoine Skipwith, 30, of Joppa, and Joseph Fields, 19, of Baltimore, with robbery and assault. Skipwith had walked off from the Baltimore City Correctional Center, police said.


Man killed on boat that went airborne

A New York man was killed in a boating accident in the Chester River on the Eastern Shore, Natural Resources Police said.

Police spokesman Sgt. Ken Turner said Phillip Laepa, 50, of Congers, N.Y., was operating a 19-foot boat south of the Route 213 bridge on Friday evening.

Officials estimate that the boat was going faster than 50 mph when it jumped the wake of a large cabin cruiser and went airborne. The boat then nose-dived and broke apart.

Mr. Laepa was taken to Chester River Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Sgt. Turner said that weather was not a factor in the crash and that Mr. Laepa was wearing a life jacket.


Police recruit killed in motorcycle crash

A Baltimore city police recruit was killed in a motorcycle crash Saturday.

The Harford County Sheriff’s Office said Ruben Renta, 33, of Edgewood, was speeding in the 2300 block of Hanson Road when he lost control of the Honda Sport motorcycle and crashed into a road sign.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived, Mr. Renta, who was not wearing a helmet, was dead.

Baltimore police officials said Mr. Renta joined the academy a month ago, but he had been a police officer before in Puerto Rico. He was to graduate next year. Officials said he leaves behind a young daughter.

Mr. Renta’s body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for autopsy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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