CRISFIELD, Md.- Crisfield Police Chief Michael Tabor says a man who was found shot to death early Friday at the Somers Cove Apartments was a known member of the "Bloods" gang who was released from prison earlier this week.
The victim was identified as 30-year-old Thomas Lane Edwards of Crisfield.
Edwards' murder has been determined to have been gang- and drug-related, according to Tabor.
He said Edwards was paroled from Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover on Monday, Oct. 15.
A search of Maryland court records shows that in July 2011, Edwards was given a 15-year prison sentence with all but 18 months suspended for a drug dealing conviction.
Tabor said the investigation into this incident got under way at around 10:27 p.m. Thursday, when officers were patrolling the Crisfield Housing Authority and heard what they believed to be several gunshots in the area of Somers Cove Apartments, which is administered by the Crisfield Housing Authority.
Tabor said responding officers searched the area and spotted several large groups of people.
They requested the assistance of Maryland State Police, who also surveyed the area, but could not find evidence or information from anyone about possible shots being fired or a shooting.
At 1:38 a.m. Friday, police said a resident at the Somers Cove Apartments turned his rear patio light on and saw what he believed to be a body slumped in the corner of his patio.
Crisfield police pronounced the victim dead at the scene. Tabor said the victim, who was later identified as Edwards, had sustained several gunshot wounds to the back and neck. His body was turned over to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore for an autopsy.
Tabor said the police department received information that there was possibly a running gun battle between groups of people, which led to Edwards being shot.
Tabor said investigators are reviewing the Crisfield Housing Authority's surveillance cameras.
At this point, no witnesses have come forward with information about the homicide. Tabor is asking the public's help in assisting investigators in identifying the person or persons responsible for this crime.
"We cannot have this kind of violence in Crisfield," Tabor said. "We need the community to come together and provide us the information we need to do our job to take these violent criminals off the street."
The neighborhood was in panic on Friday afternoon as yellow caution tape waved in the wind at the site of the homicide investigation.
"It's just really sad," said Briante Whittington who moved back to Crisfield in 2009.
She said the neighborhood just isn't what it used to be.
"When I was growing up, things like this didn't happen," Whittington said, "honestly it's really a shock being that I live right across the field from here and I am concerned for the safety of my children."
Jennifer Young also lives in Crisfield and said she sees the neighborhood changing where she doesn't feel secure.
"It used to be a safe area, it's gotten worse over the last couple of years," Young said,"Crisfield is starting to get a name and it's going to make this town a bad place."
Balloons, cards, teddy bears and candles were all part of a memorial already set up on the porch where police said Edwards body was found early Friday morning.
"I just wish that the violence would stop you know," Whittington said, "so that everybody can just come to peace and just get along with one another."
As a result of this latest incident, the city of Crisfield has issued a temporary emergency curfew for the Somers Cove Apartments.