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Ken Harris' murder shocks Baltimore City

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Crime,Stephen Janis
It was designed as an armed robbery, but in the end a popular former Baltimore City councilman lay dead — the victim of the type of crime he abhorred.

Ken Harris Sr., who represented the city's 4th District and worked to help troubled inner-city youth, was gunned down execution style while outside a jazz club early Saturday morning.

"I think we're all in shock," said City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who defeated Harris in the 2007 election that placed her at the lead of the council. "It's just really hard to wrap your mind around it."

Baltimore City Police said Harris was fatally shot once in the chest by one of three gunmen — one wearing a ski mask and the others hiding their faces behind bandannas.

As gunmen threatened the owner of the Haven Lounge, Keith Covington, by putting a gun to his head, another shot Harris.

The gunmen pushed their way through the Northeast Baltimore lounge and looted the safe of an undisclosed amount of money.


The 45-year-old Harris tried to escape in his car and was able to drive his car several blocks before crashing on a grassy knoll. He was pronounced dead about 2 a.m. this morning at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Police said Saturday afternoon they did not have any suspects.

"We found the [club] owner's wallet and a mask several blocks from the club" said Sterling Clifford, spokesman for the Baltimore City Police Department.

Clifford said the Covington was able to get off three shots as the robbers escaped out the back door of the club, but detectives do not believe any of the suspects were hit.

Word of Harris' murder spread quickly throughout the city, stunning ' former colleagues who seemed visibly shaken as they stood outside of police headquarters Saturday morning.

"I can't believe I'm talking about my friend in the past tense, and as a homicide victim" said Keiffer Mitchell Jr., a former city councilman and 2007 mayoral candidate. "I'm devastated."

Fifth District Councilwoman Rikki "Rochelle" Spector focused on the senselessness of the crime.

"Why did they have to shoot him?" she asked.
 
Harris joined the City Council in 1997, serving the city's 4th District for three term. He was outspoken member of the council, well known for taking independent and controversial positions. He often battled with the Baltimore City Police Department over arrest quotas and high spending on overtime.

"He was his own man, he voted with his conscience," said 7th District City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway. "This is just terrible."

sjanis@baltimoreexaminer.com
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