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Prince Frederick Man, 41, Killed at Dance in Barstow

Port Republic Man Charged After Turning Self In

By Arthur Santana
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 17, 2005; Page SM04

A 41-year-old Prince Frederick man was fatally shot early Sunday at a Valentine's Day dance in Barstow, and a man turned himself in to police about an hour later, Calvert County authorities said.

Calvert sheriff's deputies and Maryland State Police officers responded to a report of gunshots at the Calvert County Fairgrounds off Route 231 in Barstow about 12:20 a.m. They found Betram Bell with a gunshot wound to the chest.

Bell was taken to Calvert Memorial Hospital, where he died a short time later, said Cpl. Rosemary King, a state trooper with the Calvert Investigative Team, which is composed of officers from the Calvert County Sheriff's Office and the state police.

About 1:15 a.m., Chester Leroy Hawkins, 41, of Port Republic turned himself in at the Maryland State Police barrack in Prince Frederick, King said.

After Hawkins was arrested, he told officers that he had shot Bell, King said. He was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter and is being held without bond at the Calvert County Detention Center in Barstow, said Laura Martin, deputy Calvert County state's attorney.

The Valentine's Day dance was sponsored by the Joy Riders Club, a motorcycle group, whose members were raising money for scholarships, King said.

Investigators did not elaborate on the motive for the shooting but said it apparently followed a confrontation.

"It wasn't premeditated, but it wasn't an accident," King said. She said the men knew each other before arriving at the dance.

"It wasn't just a random shooting," King said. "It didn't have anything to do with a gang of any sort. These two men had a confrontation with each other."

Bell was a limousine driver and a construction site foreman in Prince Frederick, said his mother, Mary Bell, of Prince Frederick. He was divorced and had two children, she said.

"He was a very loving, kind, giving person," Mary Bell said. "He'd give you his heart if he could."

The killing is the first this year in a county that typically experiences few homicides. Last year, the county saw only one: An infant boy in Lusby was killed when his 17-year-old mother, Samantha S. Staycoff, allegedly stuffed a pair of socks in his mouth because he would not stop crying. Pretrial hearings are continuing in that case in Calvert County District Court.

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