At home in the middle of the day Wednesday, it turned out that Natasha Bates was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Relatives say Bates, 40, was killed when a gunman opened fire on her brother, 34-year-old Dwayne Robinson Webb, at about noon while he was visiting her home in the unit block of N. Fulton Ave. in West Baltimore.
Since the death of their mother, Bates, who recently was diagnosed with cancer, had looked out for Webb and their other siblings. On Thursday, relatives were putting together funeral plans and had set up a table under a brightly-colored umbrella to display framed pictures next to a lit candle.
“You would never think [violence] would come to your house, it’s sad to say, because of someone else — even a blood relative,” said niece Takiara Taylor, 21. “She was a good person, who really didn’t deserve it.”
Webb had been shot just two blocks away in the 1800 block of W. Lexington St. on June 2, 2012 while waiting for his child and the child’s mother to come out of a corner store. In that case, Webb identified his shooter through a photo lineup — his initials barely legible because his injuries limited the use of his right arm, according to documents in the public court file.
Grameco Redd, 32, was soon charged with attempted first-degree murder, and on June 12 pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder. Redd’s plea agreement resulted in a sentence of 20 years, 15 suspended. State records show Redd is being held at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
Asked Thursday whether Webb may have been targeted this week as a result of his role in the investigation of the earlier shooting, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said it would be irresponsible to speculate.
“It scares other people [from cooperating], and we don't know if that's actually what took place,” Batts told reporters.
Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for the state’s attorney’s office, said Webb had stopped cooperating with prosecutors, and a second witness recanted. “We made, as you might imagine, repeated attempts to get him to participate in the prosecution, but we weren’t successful,” Cheshire said. “Given those circumstances, we sought the plea agreement.”
In the double homicide, Batts said police “have a pretty good detailed story of what we think took place out there, so we're working on that.” He said residents have been “telling us a lot” and encouraged more come forward and help police solve cases.
Bates’ fiancee, Robert Harrison, was home and in the basement when Wednesday’s shooting occurred. He ran upstairs and saw Webb face-down on the living room floor. Bates was in the bathroom. Harrison thinks the gunman shot at Webb as he stood in the front doorway, and Bates was somewhere behind him.
“Everybody knows Natasha,” said Harrison, 42, pleading for people to come forward with information. “They know how she is, that she would give them her clothes off her back or a place to stay.”
As for Webb, the relatives said they believe he had turned a corner and was trying to do the right things. “He turned his life over to God. He was reading books, becoming a father to his child,” said Taylor, his niece.
As police pulled over a car in front of his home, Harrison said he wouldn’t be deterred from staying in his neighborhood but said he wished police were more of a presence before crimes occur. Bates’ sister Tickacha Camper, 35, said people who are born and raised in the neighborhood are numb to the gun violence.
A motive for 2012 shooting was not spelled out in charging documents. Webb was standing outside of a liquor store to make a purchase when police said Redd — who also goes by the name Anthony Jones — approached and started firing, striking him in the head and body, records show.
Court records show that Webb met the next day with police at the Western District station and identified Redd in a lineup.
Medical records included in the court file show Webb suffered a scapula fracture and had no range of motion in his shoulder. He complained of neck and shoulder pain, as well as headaches, and could not obtain medications or attend physical therapy because his health insurance had expired.
Records show Redd, whose name is spelled several different ways in court records, had been previously convicted of gun-related crimes. In 2010, he was convicted of carrying a handgun and received two years in prison, with all but six months suspended.
He had received five years for a drug conviction in 2009, and in early 2011 was sentenced to three years for a probation violation. Before that, he had several drug cases dropped by prosecutors.
Anyone with information on the killings was asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.