Friday, August 10, 2007

Charles Hopkins Released 30 Years After Murder -
WJZ-TV Baltimore

August 09, 2007

The gunman responsible for shooting and killing a city councilman at Baltimore's temporary City Hall is granted a conditional release from prison.

The pending release of Charles Hopkins brings back horrible memories for those who witnessed his shooting spree. Thursday night they openly questioned a decision to give him a conditional release.

In 1977 Charles Hopkins disrupted a Board of Estimates meeting because he couldn't get a health license for his restaurant. Councilwoman Mary Pat Clark tried to calm him down.

"I had taken him out of that meeting to meet with him to try and help him with his problem and I didn't get it solved in time to stop a tragedy," said Clark.

The next day Hopkins returned to this Calvert Street building used by then Mayor William Donald Schaeffer during a City Hall renovation. He had a gun. When Hopkins couldn't see the mayor he fatally shot Councilman Dominic Leonie and wounded Councilman Caroll Fitzgerald.

In the panic Councilman Joseph Curran suffered a fatal heart attack. Now, 30 years later, after being found not guilty by reason of insanity, a judge approves Hopkins conditional release from Clifton Perkins Hospital.

"He has a treatment team that now believes that his mental illness no longer causes him to be a danger to himself or a danger to the community. So as long as he is under treatment and he's under medication he can basically reside with the rest of the community," said the Baltimore City State Attorney's Office.

For the first six months Hopkins must live in a semi-secured facility at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He'll get required medicines by injection every 21 days. He must wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet. 11 years ago, it was a tragedy when doctors thought the political timing was right for Hopkins's release.

But this time Hopkins's conditional release is a done deal. As long as he meets the terms of his release he's a free man. After 30 years behind bars, prosecutors believe his illness is under control.

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