Sunday, June 28, 2009

Barricade Situation in Hampden!

Buz has just returned from visiting an ongoing barricade situation in the 3600 blk. of Paine Street in Hampden. Details are sketchy, but police have all of 36th Street closed from Chestnut Avenue to Roland Avenue--almost all of that closed to pedestrians, as well as cars. Elm Avenue and 36th Street has been established as the command post. Several command vehicles are there, plus 2 emergency services trucks, and a big black van serving as the headquarters of the negotiators. EMS personnel and a fire truck from the Hampden station were standing by just in case.
Major Ross Buzzoro, the district commander was there in his civvies (he gets no extra money for coming in on Sunday night to oversee the festivities).

It appears that one old Hampden man, who has an affection for cool, refreshing beverages, and in his spare time maintains Redman's Hall on Hickory, was being picked on by some neighborhood punks. He skirmished with several of them. We heard several people say that the kids in the area are nasty and out of control. Anyway, one of the fathers of the punks apparently intervened ready to beat the old man up. The old guy supposedly went into the house, got a gun and a machete to even things up a bit.

Depending on who you spoke to, the inebriated gent waved the gun around and barricaded himself in the house, or grabbed one of the kids and made him come into the house with him--creating a hostage situation. I was unable to determine which it was, but police were in no hurry to force the issue, apparently.

A full squad of SWAT/QRT members was present and were surrounding the house. As three new SWAT officers arrived in an unmarked car and suited up in full regalia and went toward the scene, a few loud pops were heard! Shots? Tear gas? Nope. At an inopportune moment, some dumb-dumb not too far away, in an area filled with cops and tension decided to shoot off his illegal fireworks. {I say his, because the overwhelming majority of women are too smart to do this kind of stupid stuff.}

The event provoked a kind of Hampden street scene, with The Avenue closed to traffic. People were sitting on the middle of the street, walking dogs and kids, talking and gawking. Frazier's on the Avenue had a band, and though they were inside and the doors were closed, they were so loud it created a strange atmosphere out on the street. Buz couldn't help but notice, though how some of the "original" Hampden young adults/teenagers could barely talk intelligible English, as they talked to each other or on their cell phones. It was sort of a guttural street mumbling, more of a series of animated grunts, with "yeah", and "you know" sprinkled heavily. Buz thought he heard one ordering some drugs on the phone, and another smoking a joint. Oh, well, I guess they're not really worried about their SAT scores anyway. It's the street that's where it's at, you know? Jobs? Whassat? We can always go work in a warehouse somewhere, ya' know? But, Baltimore is a great city, with lots of different people, and Buz hopes the situation is resolved peacefully with the old guy getting a month's vacation on Fallsway.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You know what? I grew up in Hampden and I don't care for the way this article views the people who grew up there. Well, I did and I can speak perfect english and so can most of the people I know. We choose the way we speak and it reflects our personality. It's not that they CAN'T speak english, they just choose not to. So talk about something you know about or stick to the story you started with.

Anonymous said...

If that is how the old man reacts to punks he should have been locked up along time ago. Punks have been here for a long time and they aren't going anywhere. You just have to learn to deal with it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You know, I think you really should work on your wording yourself. Being the intelligent man you certainly seem to view yourself as, shouldn't you be above insults? It's a shame you chose to see only what you wanted of the neighbourhood population. As a high school student that lives here, I must say that even with the delinquents running about, they certainly are a better crowd than pretentious people such as yourself. Stick to your story, not outlandish insults with little basis.

Quite frankly, I think that if a man decided, even when drunk, to get a machete and a gun then he endangered everyone around him. Seeing as he wasn't assaulted with a weapon, he was clearly in the wrong. He initiated the incident anyway, and for being an older man should have had sense to walk away and not instigate and antagonise anyone.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with the person above me.

Anonymous said...

Buz, excellent blog. I live in Hampden and the "original" kids, parents of these kids and even older crowd in this neighborhood are despicable (with the few exceptions of folks who managed to grow up in Hampden in to respectable human beings). All parties involved in this situation ought to be locked up. Fortunately, these people tend to keep to themselves and their ridiculous activities don't harm other Hampden residents... usually. I feel bad for the other residents on Paine street that this immature situation has affected.

Also, this Redman's Hall is notorious for having a "KKK" type membership. Hopefully when this old man gets locked up, Redman's Hall will be condemned and shut down.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that some think "old guy" and "young punk" are a different species. The only thing separating them is time.

Anonymous said...

well it didnt give him a right to do that just because they were bothering him and he wa fucking drunk it was crazy for that

buzoncrime said...

Jeez, so many anonymous commenters, Buz can't figure out how to respond. But we'll try.

First anonymous---He should defend himself, if necessary, but then go somewhere and call the police. Simplistic, I know, but drinking a lot can set you up for harassment. Hate to say it, but a lot of these kids just like to pick on people for fun.

Second anonymous--This article is not aimed at people who "grew up" in Hampden, many of whom are warm and welcoming. The comments are aimed at teenagers and young adult who are currently growing up in Hampden. Well, I guess the open question is, if they choose not to speak normal English, why don't they? It's not easy to turn off the thug talk. And, man, when they go looking for a job, and those words come out, they've just set themselves up for failure. And, since you're replying to me in perfect English, obviously I wasn't talking about you.

Anonymous 3 & 4, so punks are ok? It's ok to harass people because you're tough and mean? Perhaps they should have found the old drunk more amusing, and just have left him alone. Now, if he went overboard, obviously the police will deal with him. But please don't justify harassment of people for "fun".

Dear high school student---No insult intended, I was just reporting what i saw, not only last night, but on many occasions, walking around the Avenue: Not all the time, but enough. Sorry you felt insulted; if you're in high school, then I wasn't talking about you. And what makes you think he initiated it? From what I was able to learn, he was responding to street harassment.

All these young kids strutting their street cred and pregnancies, and pretending to be Park Heights thugs. One young woman proudly told me that all her friends (and she), dropped out before going to Northwestern High School, where Hampden is/was zoned for. She said it proudly. So, no insults, they just choose not to speak, and i feel sorry for them, because being street tough and slurring your words not only doesn't get you anywhere, it gets old, the older you get.

Sorry you feel "delinquents" are a better crowd. And, yeah, I don't like pretentious people either. Did you notice all the suburbanites on "Safari" at Honfest? Should the delinquents just drive them away? I don't think that rowdy young people hanging on the corners intimidating people coming to the Avenue to shop and spend money, though they may seem pretentious, is cool.

Hampden is changing and becoming more sophisticated and still retains its funky feel. But I fear these young people are lost in a different world. Don't know much about Redman's Hall, but Hampden's future is Hampden Hall.

BaltimoreGal said...

Whew, at first when I heard it was "Billy" I thought it was the guy with the face tattoos who hangs out on The Ave. and thought it seemed really out of character for him.

Is it possible to simultaneously agree & disagree with this post? A lot of the so-called "punks" aren't so bad when they realize you are a native and don't look down on them. They quit acting up and stop playing the fool then!
That said, they don't realize that if they would just go about living and quit this carrying on for the benefit of shocking people, no one would raise such a stink. (This goes for whatever the pre-teen, pajama wearing, screaming female version of a punk is- I have had WAY more trouble with them). They would end up making those who look down on them look the fool instead. I personally enjoy doing that.

As far as taking the law into your own hands, that is not a good idea. That is what police are for. I must add though that I know the elder folks in Hampden are frustrated that they call the police when there are disturbances, even dogfights, in the middle of the night and all the cops do is break it up and send people home. Pisses me off too!

Anonymous said...

The way the teenagers speak in our neighborhood is a clear reflection of the Board of Education Downtown. Our community has tried to address the seriousness of the drop out rate but to no avail. So if everyone on this blog could take 2 sec of their time and write a letter to the Board of ED maybe something could be done and our children could actually finish high school.

Anonymous said...

My friend lives on Paine st. and was 'holed up' with the LITTLE GIRLS that this man threatened. He was just a sad crazy war vet and there was no hostage situation. The shots were the police shooting the street lights out and a few rounds of tear gas at the end. You should get the facts strait before bloging. You have no credibility.

Anonymous said...

I take some offense to your working in a warehouse comment. I work in a warehouse and it has provided me with a nice large home on a quiet tree lined street in Hamilton. Granted, I have worked my way up from warehouse worker to warehouse supervisor, but with a little effort and some smarts anyone should be able to move up in the ranks in a warehouse environment. Also, the warehouse I work at is not a union shop so we are paid by performance and knowledge. In the end, stereotypes of any kind can be dangerous and often times just plain ignorant. Thanks

buzoncrime said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments about the drop-out rate. The drop-out rate in the city schools is horrendous, particularly among African-American males. Buz thinks that it is because of the bullying and violence associated with the typical zoned high school.

One young man told me that his mother said if he didn't get into City or Poly, she was going to send him to live with his grandmother in Perry Hall. This is a typical conundrum for kids in the city approaching high school age: get into one of the city's elite high schools, go to private school, move to the county, or drop out. Not many Hampden kids relish the idea of going to Northwestern.

Fact is I heard the pops, and saw the fireworks in the air. Looked to be around the south side of the Rotunda. Didn't know the cops shot at any point, and since no reporters were working, didn't know they used tear gas at the end. Of course, like most folks, couldn't get too close because of the police lines.

Glad you have found your good occupation as a warehouse supervisor. I work at a nonprofit and usually the clients who don't have jobs and are there for drug treatment will first say: "I wanna work in a warehouse". OK; then we learn they have no GED, no driver's license, sometimes not even any ID, no computer skills, and criminal convictions.
My point was/is: The days of just showing up in Baltimore and being physical labor lifting things, and loading/unloading are pretty limited. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Many warehouses have moved out of the city to Elkridge, Jessup, and Aberdeen, etc. Almost everybody wants at least a GED now. And, I have noticed recently, an utter revulsion by employers against people involved in the drug world, particularly to those with convictions for assault--even if it was just on their girlfriends or wives. Many warehouses are requiring uses of computer-related equipment, operating heavy machinery, and background checks. So, I was writing from this perspective.

The young men I have heard talking like that are, unless they change somehow, going to find it very difficult to get employment, unless it is simply doing manual labor. As most of us have/will find out, that doesn't work too well when you get some age on you. I applaud your working your way up, and respect supervisors like you, but if your warehouse has openings for my nonprofit clients, please email me directly, oh, and please correct me if I'm wrong. Does your warehouse use physical laborers from a temp agency for your grunt work?

Just sayin'.

John said...


Glad to see your Blog is attracting a lot of traffic... I went to Hampden Thursday night and the groups of shirtless youths marauding through the streets with no aim or purpose was rather disconcerting, although I generally project an attitude that bothering me would make my day and ruin theirs, so I had no problems.

To the man/woman/child attacking Buz's credibility, the word you're looking for is, "straight." I know that kids these days have the damndest time with the English language, but take a little pride in your insults. Your misspelling diminishes your credibility.

And to anyone who thinks that living life "on the street" and "keeping it real" you are an idiot. Short term success will quickly become poverty, jail and a generally substandard quality of life.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I have to go to the Avenue once a month...ever single time, unless it's raining, it turns into a nightmare because of those stupid punks. They ARE out control, and frankly I wouldn't have cared if the old man had shot them.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know the real truth about what happened. I'm sure that Mr. Bill didn't "go off" just because some little girls were "talking smack". We do have a problem with the teenagers in Hampden. When the elderly are too afraid to sit on their front steps because of "punk bullying", it's time to stop the madness. There are 2 groups of "punks" in Hampden--the "wanna-be punks" who only run their mouths, and the "thug punks" who actually do physical harm. Those of us who live here know the difference. If we could just get the dead beat parents to control their children, we'd be ok. But let's not mistake the good kids for the bad. Just because you see a group of teenage boys walking around doesn't mean you have to hide your purse or run inside. There are lots of good kids here just "chilling" with friends and supporting local businesses. I was born and raised in Hampden, and bought my house here. I am raising my 2 boys here as well. There's trouble in every neighborhood, and in some places, it's much worse. I'm proud to be a Hampdenite!!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the county and moved to Hampden a few years ago. After reading this blog I tend can see both sides, I have met a lot of really solid and good people since I have been here, and at the same time a lot of Jackasses-young and old!!! I walk down the Avenue all the time and listen to the KIDS walking their children up the street and screaming the "F" bomb across the Avenue at the other girl pushing her baby carrige.
Now this is screwed up at so many levels that its hard to begin talking about, but the thing that set me off in the blog was the one person that wants to blame all the childrens learning problems on the board of education when it really starts at home!! These children need to learn some respect at home so that when they go to school their teachers can TEACH them instead of just trying to control them!! Thats all and Good luck to the children, this world's hard enough with with the proper tools for life, I can't imagine what it will be like for them!

Anonymous said...

I live on this block and witnessed the situation. There were no teenagers involved- the kids he went after were all under 10. I didn't see what the kids did to the guy, but they were kids, not thugs. Also, they did shoot out the lights in front and back of the house as well as windows in the back of the house.

Anonymous said...

"particularly to those with convictions for assault--even if it was just on their girlfriends or wives."

You're disgusting. "JUST on their girlfriends or wives."?!?!?!?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Well folks, I am his neighbor and was holed up in my home with several other neighbors and her children along with my infant for nearly 7 hours. The man in question would NEVER have hurt anyone if he were in his right mind. NO, what he did was NOT right, but given the idiot children in this neighborhood, it was understandable. He didn't intend to HURT anyone, he was trying to scare them and the dumbass punk that started it all needs a few months in Juvenile Detention himself.

This man did NOT pull a child in there for a hostage. He went in to sleep it off and that's why they had such a hard time getting him to open up. He fell asleep for hours as he usually does. He is a two-time Viet Nam vet and he served our country well. Now at age 62, he is coming apart at the seems and needs help and sympathy.

Save your criticism for the instigators. We LOVE our neighbor and we'd be proud to have him back on our block. In fact, ANY of you would be lucky to have him living near you.

Anonymous said...

"And, I have noticed recently, an utter revulsion by employers against people involved in the drug world, particularly to those with convictions for assault--even if it was just on their girlfriends or wives."

Um, what?

You'd think a crime blog would be the one place domestic violence wouldn't be discussed so disrespectfully. Assault in any form is unacceptable. Abusing one's partner or children is an especially reprehensible one. You of all people, Buz, have a responsibility not to belittle domestic abuse victims. There is no such thing as "just" beating up one's girlfriend/wife (or boyfriend/husband) and kids.

buzoncrime said...

Hey, two anonymous posters regarding domestic violence, You are Right!

And I'm glad to see that people caught that! Because I was paraphrasing what they often say to me about their assault charges.

But, believe it or not, that's what a lot of guys(mostly guys) will tell me! Oh, you know, it was just my girl, man! And were still together, you know.

And, you know, It Is Disgusting It's part of a culture of violence, It's assaulting wives, girlfriends, kids, and pets, old drunks, where a lot of this violence begins. And I have found that these DV guys are often the hardest to deal with, it starts young, and is often fueled by a lifestyle of "street stuff", and booze and drugs.

MY point is that these fellas think nothing of it, it's just part of the tough-guy lifestyle which has gotten so many of our young men hurt, dead, or in jail. It often starts in the home, with the children witnessing dad beating up mom. Talk about disgusting!

And the courts are taking domestic violence much more seriously; state's attorneys are not dropping charges, often, til the suspect pleads guilty. So, now these tough guys have a great deal of trouble getting jobs, because when employers see that assault conviction, they run the other way.

Unless these folks get treatment for their thinking, it typically happens over and over again.

And Buz doesn't think that anyone has a right to put their hands on anybody, especially someone you purport to care for.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You make valid points about the days of just showing up to a labor job and being able to be hired on. We do require a GED, computer skills are not needed, but are appreciated. A driver’s license is not needed for the job and as far as criminal convictions, we are beholden to a corporate master and background checks are used and folks are disqualified for certain convictions. You got me on the point of location as well, the warehouse is in Elkridge so transportation to and from the job is needed for a city resident. From the point of view you mention, I concede that it may be hard for a lot of folks with a “past” to get a job in a warehouse. However, my point was that those that maybe didn’t excel in school or had no means to provide for a college education can still provide a fairly good life for themselves in a warehouse environment. In the end, we were looking at the work from two different places and I would hope that you would agree that we are both correct in our stances.
We do not use any temporary employees for any type of work right now. We have used them in the past and many of them have become full time employees. We basically use the temp time as a “test” period to see if they can/are willing to do the work. At this point we are not hiring(nor laying off), but if that changes I will inform you and if you have clients that can meet the criteria for the jobs I am sure they would be welcomed to apply for work.

buzoncrime said...

Anonymous warehouse supervisor---Thanks for your thorough and handsome response.

Your company is lucky to have you!

I guess I was reacting to hearing these guys talk trash on Sunday night,and in the past, and comparing them to the guys I might meet at the nonprofit I work at part-time.

But you got me on the point that it is definitely possible to start somewhere and, even without a college degree to work your way up and make a decent living. It's just that I sense that once these guys decide that they eventually want to go out and get a job, they face a number of potential barriers, which they are probably unaware of.

Buz gets the impression that a lot of manufacturing and warehouse companies keep just a small staff of their own, but round out the force during busy periods with temp employees to do the routine or heavy labor, paying minimum wage, or just above.

Anonymous said...

I had no problem following this story until I got to this part: "But, Baltimore is a great city"

That's where you lost me. Maybe you were trying to say "But, Baltimore is a smoldering pile of horse shit and it and everyone in it should be burned to the ground."

GregP said...

Anonymous--thank you for the kind suggestion that me, my wife, and our infant son should be "burned to the ground" in our house in Baltimore

buzoncrime said...

Anonymous---I was curious as to exactly why you would say such a thing. There are plenty of good decent people in Baltimore who pay taxes, etc.

Were you just ranting an anti-Baltimore hate, which sees a lot of light in the Sun's message board, or did you have a legitimately bad experience here. We'd just like to know!

GregP---It's hard to figure out where folks like the last anonymous are coming from. There are many possibilities, but it seems like a very simple-minded statement to make, of course. Best guess: just a visceral comment, which on the internet anyone can make about anything to get anything off their chest. I guess it's good they do it here rather than for real.

GregP said...

Agreed. Many people post comments on the internet without really thinking twice, or simply for shock value. Still, I find it unfortunate that many people trash Baltimore, rather than trying to contribute constructively to make it a better place. I have lived here for 15 years and still think it's a great city, even with its substantial urban problems. To give in and declare that the negative elements in the city have won is a sad and unhelpful attitude.

Anonymous said...

Sorry guys, but I have to agree with anonymous. If you think that Baltimore is a great city, then you may not have a lot to compare it to. Virtually every place I've ever traveled to has way more to ofer than this dump. B'more used to have some positive qualities, but over the past 10 or so years they have all disappeared one by one. If indeed you feel that there's anything good about this crap hole, I promise you could find the same thing only better somewhere else. Once I felt like you - I tried to make B'more a better place. But this city just shits on anyone who isn't garbage or a criminal. I left once and stupidly came back to give it another chance. As soon as I can leave, this time I'll never look back. Baltimore is a festering pile of crap with no redeeming value whatsoever. It's reputation as a wasteland is well deserved.

Anonymous said...

The original Anonynous here. I've done plenty to try to make Baltimore a better place. In my given industries I've actually gone far above the call of duty organizing things, promoting things, being involved, etc... and the best I've encountered time and again is bland indifference. The worst I've encountered is... well, you can all imagine. Baltimore, as it is today, is a bath that runs from frigid-cold to lukewarm. The low-end of the experience has no bottom (as any glance at the daily news will show you) and the high-end is the epitome of half-assed. As the previous poster pointed out, none of the "good" qualities in Baltimore are unique to the city and can be found better elsewhere. It hurts me to say this: Baltimore has been a part of my life for almost 20 years. But it's time to move on. Baltimore is a great place for a 20-something with nothing invested to come to for a few years, feel cool for being surrounded by squalor, cheap beer and warehouse parties. But there's no reason to stay past that phase.

And to anyone whose response to my original comment is anything along the lines of "YOU want MY BABY to BURN???" Yes, that's exactly what I was saying. YOUR baby should burn. Give me a break.

GregP said...

I can certainly understand an attitude of frustration and defeat in the face of what seem like unsurmountable problems. I've worked as a physician here for 15 years and have seen some pretty awful things (though cheap beer and warehouse parties have never been my scene), but I have also seen amazingly good qualities in people from whom you would not expect it, which is why I find statements like "Baltimore is a smoldering pile of horse shit" and "Baltimore is a festering pile of crap with no redeeming value whatsoever" off the mark. But everyone is entitiled to their own opinion.

amyblueshoes said...

ok. Got a few comments. Like your jazzy writing style and all but you have your facts a little off.
I live across the street, over my business so I saw the whole thing as it happened and I even happen to know a few of the folks involved.
First off, the true story is WAY more entertaining. The "hampden punks" were actually 3 children ages 6-8 playing in their front yard which was next door to the Vietnam Vet, Bill, in question here. These 3 children were just being loud and obnoxious kids which disturbed Bill from his drinking and mourning (his wife passed). He, in his lubricated state thought he'd scare them away by waving a little knife around and yelling... but this IS Hampden so the kids weren't really threatened by it so he staggered and tripped going back up the stairs. Phil, the little boy in the group and a real 3 foot terror started teasing him. The youngest of the group, Bella climbed up the steps to his porch and hugged his leg and appologized for Phil's behavior. They then went back to her house to play for the remainder of the night,unaware of the ensuing mayhem. Bill, then wandered back in his own home and promptly dozed off and missed the entirety of the hostage negotiations... until the tear gas. Which yes there was. There were 2 gunshots which took out the street lights and then a canister of teargas was shot into the Vietnam vet's living room...(mind you that this did not happen until 7 full hours after the instance with the butter knife.)
Bill is back at home and the neighborhood is glad to have him. Bella says he's nice... just a little strange sometimes.
And crazy little Phil, he has been inspired by this whole fiasco. Now he wants to be a Police Officer "so he can kill people".

But how much would you say they spent on the helicopter, the 20 swat members I counted, the armored trucks, the 4 tactical units, and the myriad of other random vehicles? *sigh* if only have that could have been spared by say, doing some research and finding who the supposed hostage was? Oh, Baltimore.

buzoncrime said...

AMY---Thanks for the comment. Obviously, we never really got to the bottom of what was going on, mainly because no reporters were working due to the cutbacks at the Sun, I guess.

Buz walked around the whole perimeter that night, and only picked up bits and pieces of this and rumors of that.

And, you know, I got a whiff of overkill and "procedure" a bit myself. Mostly, procedures are wise and good, but sometimes you have to apply them with common sense and good judgment, sometimes lacking in bureaucracies or folks with little experience or who are too enamored of the textbook solution.

I can reflect not only on this case, but the Gates case, and, a number of years ago, the "justifiable" shooting and killing of an elderly and crazy woman in Homeland. (Yes, knives are extremely dangerous, and police are taught that if you are within 22 feet of a person with a knife, you are in their kill zone, etc., and they showed a movie about it in training endlessly called "Edged Weapons".) But we digress.

I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened in the old days, if the beat cop carefully kicked in the door and woke ole sleeping Bill up.

And your consultant couldn't help but wonder what would happen if a Mumbai incident went down, with multiple shooters in multiple places, who really were armed and willing to die.

But I guess a lot depended on what the first responding cops were told, and by whom, and whether or not it was embellished, etc. Given the scenario you presented, Amy, why were the police even called, and who called them and what did they say--and why did they say it?
Your point was well taken: the facts were a little "off" in a lot of contexts.
Good information is a precious commodity in these kinds of situations, but if someone lies or embellishes, or simply tells a story they've heard, the facts become "facts".

Thanks for the compliment (aw shucks); hope your store is doing well!