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Mobtown Beat

The Mayor of Fells Point

Neighborhood fixture Leroy Moore taken off the street

Leroy Moore, as seen in a photograph from a Facebook "fan page" set up in his honor.

By Andrea Appleton | Posted 6/16/2010

Leroy Moore, aka the Mayor of Fells Point, has been sauntering down the streets of the neighborhood for a quarter century, bumming cigarettes, hugging strangers, and tossing out compliments. In a neighborhood known for its oddball characters--Tambourine John, the Telescope Man, the Colonel--he is one of the most beloved.

"You look like a goddess!" he'll call out, or "How's it going, big guy?" Mention the name "Leroy" to the coffee shop regulars, bar owners, restaurant hostesses, or the guys who sit on benches in the plaza and nearly all will nod in recognition. Most seem to have a strong affection for Moore, with several referring to him as a "gentle giant." (He is a touch over 6 feet tall.)

"He's notorious for making you feel better," says Lindsey Shanklin, the manager of Fells Grind, where Moore often hangs out. "One hundred percent, he's just good. You don't meet many people like that."

"I have to say, I like Leroy," says Jim Podgurski, a neighborhood resident since 1963. "He always has something nice to say to everyone who goes by."

Thus many were shocked to hear that Moore was recently charged with assault. "He's a gentle man," says Samantha Cuffley, a hostess at Sláinte. "That's kinda hard to believe."

"That's not Leroy," says Meredith Johnston, a Fells Point regular who's known Moore for a decade.

According to the arrest report, on the evening of Sunday, May 2, a police officer approached Moore, who was standing on the 700 block of South Broadway "about 30 feet away" from a bar. The report says that the officer asked Moore to leave because he was obstructing pedestrian traffic. When Moore refused, the officer pulled out his handcuffs. At this point, the report says, Moore threw a lit cigarette at the officer, punched him in the jaw, and tried to take another swing. The officer writes that he then "deployed departmental issued expandable baton" and hit Moore repeatedly before finally arresting him. (Attempts by a City Paper reporter to find witnesses to the incident were unsuccessful.) Moore has previously faced assault charges, once in 2004 and once in 2008; he was found guilty on the 2004 charges.

Concrete details on Moore's background are difficult to come by. Police intake documents indicate that he lives near Johns Hopkins Hospital with his elderly father, but repeated attempts to contact his family came to nothing. Those who know Moore say that he is developmentally disabled, and several contend he takes psychiatric medication of some sort.

Moore's reputation in Fells Point is not exactly spotless. He's been barred from numerous establishments, including the Waterfront Hotel. Often it's been his loud voice that has gotten him into trouble. "I can't tell you how many times I've been some place and been like, 'Leroy, you gotta bring the volume down, son,'" Podgurski says.

"He could be a basso profundo," agrees Alexis Tantau, a hostess at Kooper's Tavern. But those who know him tend to agree that, while often boisterous, Moore is a peaceful man.

Peter's Inn co-owner Karin Tiffany's reaction to the details of the police report echoed that of many others who were interviewed. "I've never seen him violent in 25 years," she says. "He's really simple, but he's not violent."

Moore was charged with second-degree assault for the May 2 incident, as well as with resisting arrest and failing to comply with a lawful order. He was held for evaluation at Spring Grove Hospital Center, a psychiatric hospital in Catonsville. Then, on June 10--the day his trial was to have been held--he was declared mentally incompetent. Baltimore City District Court Clerk Robert Day would not speak to the specifics of Moore's case, but he says that when a defendant is found incompetent and deemed a possible danger to himself or others, he is sent to a mental health facility to be treated until capable of standing trial, or until the court must legally release him. Given the charges facing Moore, the court could hold him as incompetent for up to three years. At that point, he would go before an administrative law judge who would determine whether he should be released or committed indefinitely.

It is uncertain whether Moore will be held for that long, or if he will ever stand trial. But it is likely to be a long time before the Mayor of Fells Point returns to his jurisdiction.

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