The 15-year-old squeegee worker accused of fatally shooting a 48-year-old man wielding a baseball bat near the Inner Harbor last week was acting in self-defense and should not be tried as an adult, his attorneys said Friday.
Timothy Reynolds, the Hampden man who was killed, was the instigator, the defense attorneys said, because he crossed several lanes of traffic to confront the youths with the bat at the busy intersection July 7.
“This isn’t your typical first-degree murder charge,” attorney J. Wyndal Gordon said at a bail review hearing Friday. “This is a 14-year-old child paralyzed by fear.”
The teen was 14 at the time of the shooting; his birthday was the following day, Gordon said.
Police arrested the teen at an apartment in Essex on Thursday morning. He appeared over video in district court Friday afternoon for a bail review hearing where District Judge Theresa C. Morse, ordered him to remain in custody without bond, citing the seriousness of the crime.
The Baltimore Sun is not naming the suspect because he is a minor.
At the courtroom, several of the teen’s family members sat quietly watching the proceeding.
Before the hearing, the teen’s father and grandmother spoke briefly at a news conference, along with the attorneys at Gordon’s office.
“He’s a good kid,” said his father, Tavon Scott, adding that his son enjoys reading.
He questioned why Reynolds, “a grown man,” would come after the group with a bat.
Scott added that his son is scared because he has never been to jail or previously been arrested.
The 15-year-old is a student at Digital Harbor High School and had been enrolled in summer classes at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Gordon said during the hearing. He had been washing windows and selling water on the side of the road for seven years and made $200 on some days.
“He was just out, trying to make some money,” which he used to support his three younger siblings, Gordon said at the hearing.
The attorneys said that the first-degree murder charge is an overreach, as it requires prosecutors to show the teen acted with premeditation.
The attorneys noted that the state’s attorney’s office could reduce the charges, which could allow the case to move to juvenile court, which provides lighter sentences and emphasizes rehabilitation.
A spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the charges Friday.
Gordon said the shooting was in self-defense, and that Reynolds’ aggression toward the group of squeegee workers caused fear among them.
According to police, Reynolds drove through the intersection of Light and Conway streets, parked on the other side of Light Street and emerged from his car with the bat. Reynolds was fatally shot and later pronounced dead at the hospital.
“This man came at them looking for trouble,” he said in court, noting that Reynolds had to park and cross several lanes of traffic to confront the group. Gordon also said his client is much shorter and thinner than Reynolds, who appeared threatening to the group.
A dashboard camera video of last week’s shooting obtained by The Baltimore Sun shows Reynolds after he already had exited his car with a metal baseball bat, and walked across Light Street and confronted the workers.
He can be seen walking away from the intersection as three squeegee workers follow him. They get near him but another car obstructs the view. Less than a second later, they turn to run as Reynolds starts chasing with the bat raised. At roughly the same time as he swings his bat toward one of the workers, another throws what appears to be a rock at his head from behind. The video shows the rock hitting Reynolds’ head and bouncing off.
Reynolds, still holding his bat, turns around when a third squeegee worker pulls a handgun and starts firing. The first shot appears to hit him somewhere in the side of his body and he starts falling. As the shooter is beginning to walk away, he shoots at Reynolds four more times.
Gordon said it’s not yet clear why police have identified their client as the shooter. He said the defense team has not reviewed the video.
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Assistant State’s Attorney Susan Rodgers said at the hearing that in addition to a video of the incident, the state has multiple witnesses to the shooting.
Seeking to keep the teen held without bond, she described how Reynolds was “surrounded by three of the males” when someone threw a rock at his head. At that point, she said Reynolds became disoriented.
After the shooting, the group of squeegee workers fled and the 15-year-old removed his shirt, Rodgers said.
The Sun on Friday obtained a charging document filed against the teen but shielded from the public because he is a juvenile. The document detailed the dashboard camera video and how the teen allegedly fled the scene. The document said he was identified by his clothing —”a pink t-shirt, black mask covering his face, dark pants with a white stripe on the lower portion of the leg, and gray tennis shoes.” He was seen shooting the victim while simultaneously fleeing.
“Additional video evidence shows the suspect fleeing the scene southbound on S. Charles Street, and indicates that the suspect removed his t-shirt as he fled,” the document said.
Several witnesses were taken from the scene to police headquarters to be interviewed.
“Through additional investigation, witnesses were developed who identify the suspect who shot and killed Mr. Reynolds,” the document said.