Prince George's Police Kill Suspect in Slaying

Police SWAT team members leave the Seat Pleasant park where Denard Mason was shot and killed.
Police SWAT team members leave the Seat Pleasant park where Denard Mason was shot and killed. (By James A. Parcell -- The Washington Post)
By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 8, 2006

A Prince George's County police sniper yesterday fatally shot a suicidal man who was a suspect in the weekend slaying and burning of his girlfriend, a Bowie State University student.

The student, Calida Shamara Williams, was found Sunday, her 28th birthday, inside her blazing apartment in Landover Hills. Police said her throat had been slashed before the fire was set.

Yesterday, police said her boyfriend, Denard Mason of the 7100 block of Chapparal Drive in the Capitol Heights area, sat for hours on a Seat Pleasant park bench putting a gun in his mouth. He alternately trained the gun on himself and spoke to his mother on a cell phone, police said.

The incident started at 9:25 a.m. when Mason's mother called police to alert them that her son had a gun in the 6500 block of Blacklog Street and was despondent, according to two police sources, who asked not to be identified because the case remains open.

When officers arrived, they saw Mason walking around the neighborhood with a gun, police said. He then went to the park.

Officers cordoned off the area around the park, near Dateleaf Avenue and Blacklog Street. Sources said officers communicated with Mason, although a news release issued last night by Prince George's police indicated that they did not.

Mason, 39, told an officer that he killed Williams but that he wasn't going to prison, according to a police source who also did not want to be identified because the case is under investigation.

The sniper, a 24-year veteran of the department, shot Mason one time when he started to walk toward police with the gun, according to a news release issued by Prince George's police.

Mason, who did not fire his gun, died at the scene. Police did not identify the sniper.

According to police, Mason was interviewed by homicide investigators Monday and said he had been at Williams's home two hours before the blaze was set at 6:30 a.m.

In a television interview with NBC 4 this week at the scene of the fire, a man who identified himself only as Williams's boyfriend of several months seemed shocked by the news Williams had died. He also seemed surprised that police said she was the victim of a homicide. "Foul play?" he asked, looking at the camera.

It was not clear yesterday whether that was Mason or another man who identified himself as Williams's boyfriend.

Williams was set to graduate from Bowie State with an accounting degree in May. She enrolled there in 2003, when she transferred from Prince George's Community College, said Bowie State spokeswoman Deborrah Banks.

Williams, the mother of a 5-year-old girl, Maya, had moved into her Landover Hills apartment, in the 4400 block of 68th Place, a week before she was killed, said Betty Thompson, head administrative assistant in the business department at Bowie State. Before she moved, she had been living with her father, Thompson said.

On Friday, Williams came into Thompson's office for a visit, saying she was tired but excited about her birthday.

Thompson said she felt close to Williams and dispensed motherly advice to her. "Calida was almost like a daughter to me," Thompson said.

Williams did not speak of a boyfriend but had been married and divorced, she said.

"I don't think she was going with this boyfriend that long," Thompson said. "In the last few months she acquired him."

Williams was past president of Bowie State's Spanish Club and joined the AKA sorority in the fall.

"I'm still reeling from the news," said Mary Harris, a professor and adviser to the Spanish Club. "This threw me for a loop."

Williams had a part-time accounting job in Bethesda and was offered a full-time job at the firm when she graduated, Thompson said.

"She was a wonderful person, not a rowdy girl," Thompson said. "She was down to earth, serious about her job. I can say this: She was well on her way."

Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.

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