Metro Police say two attacks on homeless men in the same area, although eight months apart, may be the work of the same gunman.
Cold Case detectives working the Nov. 3 shooting death of Edward Matthews, a homeless man who was found dead on a park bench at Church Street and Fifth Avenue North, say the crime is similar to another in March that also involved a homeless man who was shot while he slept.
In the other case from eight months ago, Albanus Kitaka was sleeping outside 242 Fifth Ave. N. on March 10 when he said he was kicked and awakened by a man at approximately 4 a.m., police said. Kitaka, who was age 60 at the time, suffered a gunshot wound to the mouth that he said occurred without provocation. He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for treatment and has recovered.
Similarities between the two cases include the close proximity of the locations, both occurred in the early morning hours and both involved homeless men.
Kitaka has said that he believes the person who shot him was a black man.
Police are continuing to interview homeless persons and providers of services to the homeless. Investigators have already spoken to large number of those individuals as officers try to glean any information about the gunman. It is not known whether the suspect is also homeless.
During the past year, Central Precinct officers have increased their policing efforts in and around the Church Street corridor by 93 percent in an effort to prevent harm to persons exposed on the street, to improve quality of life in the area, as well as encourage the use of available shelters.
Central officers, during that period, have extended offers of assistance (transportation to shelters and/or referral to service providers to the homeless) 1,100 times, 697 of which have been refused.
Anyone with information on the person or persons involved in the murder of Matthews or the wounding of Kitaka is asked to contact the police department’s Homicide-Cold Case Unit at 862-7329 or Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME.