A Halethorpe man and several other suspects descended onto the Fells Point neighborhood late one January night for a “robbery spree,” during which a Little Italy restaurant manager was fatally shot as he got into his car, police said.
Baltimore Police detailed for the first time in court documents Wednesday the events that preceded the deadly shooting of Chesley Patterson, the general manager at La Scala restaurant, on Jan. 23.
Samuel Wise, 22, was arrested and charged late Tuesday night after briefly attempting to flee police headquarters, the department said.
“We’re very, very happy, and we want to thank the police immensely for their efforts,” Chris Allison, operations manager at La Scala, said Wednesday.
Patterson’s niece, Madison, who lived with her uncle before he died, said news of the arrest came as a good thing amid tragedy. “It’s about time. This should have never happended,” she said.
Patterson’s death sparked fear and outrage among city residents and customers of the well-known restaurant employee. Shortly after his death, hundreds of mourners gathered outside the restaurant to remember him.
Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen, who represents Southeast Baltimore, said in a statement that Patterson was “one of the kindest people in the world,” and thanked police and the community for the arrest.
“This senseless disregard for human life cannot be accepted or tolerated,” Cohen said.
Wise, of Halethorpe, is charged with first-degree murder and is being held at the Central Booking and Intake Center downtown. He does not have an attorney listed in online court records.
Charging documents say two other suspects were in the van the night of the shooting. Police said the group robbed at least two other individuals in Southeast Baltimore before Patterson.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison addressed some details of the case during remarks to the media following a Wednesday news conference announcing increased funding for anti-violence efforts in Baltimore.
”It speaks to their brazenness. It speaks to the culture of violence that you hear us talk about — their brazenness to commit armed robberies and carjackings and then to pull that trigger — to shoot someone and kill someone because of their lack of care for human life,” he said. “That’s what this was all about.”
One of the other former suspects in Patterson’s death, Shamal Scott, was killed this month in the 2200 block of Cedley Street in Westport in South Baltimore, police spokesperson Lindsey Eldridge said Wednesday.
Baltimore County Police had charged Scott, 25, with murder in a separate case on Jan. 26 in Lansdowne, just days after Patterson was killed.
The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s office later dropped the murder charge against Scott because incorrect information was included in the statement of probable cause filed against him. Deputy State’s Attorney Robin Coffin said previously that Scott was no longer implicated in the case, and he was freed from custody.
A third suspect in Patterson’s killing remains at large, city police said.
Patterson, 44, was killed in 1700 block of Eastern Avenue, less than half a mile from La Scala.
Police said that at 11:05 p.m., Patterson was captured on surveillance video as he drove to the block, parked and went inside the Bristol Liquor store. He then came outside, put items in his truck and proceeded to get into the driver side.
A gold Honda Odyssey minivan pulled up, and a person wearing all black got out of the passenger side, walked up to Patterson, pointed a gun at him and pulled Patterson’s driver-side door open, police said. The gunman fired a shot at Patterson then got back into the van, the charging documents said.
An officer in the Southern District patrol officer recognized the van from a description given over the police radio as it pulled into a BP gas station on Waterview Avenue in Cherry Hill, the document said. Officers attempted to stop the van that night, but it fled. The vehicle was found abandoned on Jan. 25, and crime scene technicians were able to recover fingerprints from the passenger door that matched Wise’s.
Wise wasinterviewedMarch 17 and admitted to being in the van, charging documents said. He told police he was watching a football game inside the van and did not know who else was in the van with him but told investigators he was sitting in the front passenger seat, the document said.
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Police also looked at Wise’s cellphone and found several text messages from the night of the killing. In one exchange with his girlfriend, Wise tells her “im robbing.”
The document said that shortly after the shooting, Wise’s girlfriend sent a “location ping” to his phone, and “Apple location puts Mr. Wise in the 4200 block of Eastern Avenue,” at 11:18 p.m.
Police said Wise and other suspects were responsible for two other robberies, including one in the 1500 block of Lancaster Street and the 800 block of Bond Street in Fells Point.
In the first robbery, the suspects took the victim’s bag with his laptop, headphones and wallet, the document said. The victim was then struck in the back of the head.
In the later robbery, police wrote in charging documents that the suspects were again driving a Honda van when they stopped a victim on Bond Street, rifled through his pockets at gunpoint, found nothing and fled back to the van, the documents said.
Baltimore Sun reporters Lea Skene and Christina Tkacik contributed to this article.