Silver Spring residents demand police action after back-to-back homicides -- Gazette.Net


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‘We're leaving no stone unturned,’ police say

by Jeremy Arias

Staff Writer

Silver Spring residents demanded answers from Montgomery County police at a community meeting in White Oak Thursday night amid growing concern over back-to-back fatal shootings in Silver Spring early this month

Capt. Marcus Jones, who runs the department's Major Crimes Division, and Lt. Michael Price, the acting commander of the Silver Spring police district, sought to allay residents' concerns and asked potential witnesses to step forward with information they said would be critical to solving the homicides of 22-year-old Christopher Davon White and Jesse Patrick Campos, who was 21.

White, who was from Landover, was killed Monday night in Briggs Chaney while Campos, who lived in White Oak, was found dead in his apartment four days earlier on Dec. 7.

"We can't solve these crimes on our own," Jones said. "If you saw something that just didn't look right, I would encourage you to call us."

Close to 80 people attended the meeting in the White Oak Community Center Thursday, including County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring. Several other council members sent staff members to the meeting and at least one representative from the office of Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Dist. 3) of Towson.

Both men were shot to death in seemingly unrelated but apparently targeted homicides, Jones said. In the Dec. 7 shooting, two potential suspects were seen loitering around Campos' apartment building just before police were called, he said.

"What I will tell you is that this is not a random incident," Jones said. "From our investigation Mr. Campos was targeted and it was him specifically mentioned by name."

While most residents thanked the police for their efforts at the meeting, others criticized what they called a lack of police presence in their neighborhoods. One woman, who said she was a friend of Campos, mentioned the Dec. 27, 2011 shooting death of Franklin Amobi in White Oak, who was also her friend, among other unresolved killings in the area.

"You all haven't found the killer of Frank Amobi and now you all are trying to find the killer of Jesse [Campos]," said the woman, who declined to give her name.

She also mentioned the August 2010 shooting death of 27-year-old Briggs Chaney resident Julian Dionte Kelly. Police charged two men following that shooting, one of whom was convicted on assault charges last year, but Tyshon L. Jones, the man police identified as the shooter, remains on the loose.

"You all haven't found the killer of the boy that was killed in Castle Boulevard over a year ago and you know who did it," the woman said Thursday. "I don't understand that. You all are saying that you're out there and you're doing something about it, but I'm not seeing anything."

Jones assured the woman that Amobi's case, and any other open homicide investigation, was no less a priority now than they were when they took place.

"We are not going to put Jesse's case on the side so that we can work this other case; we don't stop," he said. "I've got homicides that happened five years ago that I'm still working on."

Ed Weiler, a public safety advocate who lives in the Briggs Chaney area, brought up the continuing problem of understaffing in the Silver Spring police district and expressed concern that the recent shootings could be the latest trend in what he called an overall increase in drug-related crimes.

"I'm going to be the devil's advocate here and say that it sounds like they're targeting people in a drug war," Weiler said.

Frank Cockrell, the acting president of the Calverton Citizen's Association, also mentioned drug sales in and around his association, which falls in Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

"We've got a major, serious upgrowth in problems, and not just the break-ins ... the drug dealing and usage has really been growing," Cockrell said.

While Jones strongly disagreed that the recent homicides were indicative of a larger drug or "turf war," neither he nor Price completely discounted the possibility that drugs played a role in the shootings. Detectives said Amobi was shot while dealing crack cocaine to several other men, and Price mentioned Campos' prior convictions for drug possession as a possible factor in why he was targeted.

"But that may not have been the case because the word is there was an altercation outside [Campos'] apartment," Price said after the meeting. "Yes, you may have evidence that he had prior drug convictions, but in the end it's not what you know; it's what you can prove ... We're leaving no stone unturned in either of these investigations."

Jones and Price closed the meeting by asking anyone with information about the homicides to contact either the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070, or, for those who wish to remain anonymous, Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-8477. Crime Solvers is offering a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information that leads to an arrest in either homicide.

jarias@gazette.net