He was a working father of two. Every night he went to work his graveyard shift at the Rite Aid in Bel Air. He took care of his family, always making sure his two boys were dressed well for school.
In 2005, however, things began to fall apart for Mark Gardner. His wife of six years took out an ex-parte, banning him from coming near his home.
He moved in with his cousins, stressed, tired, and broken hearted.
“She told Mark she no longer wanted to be married, because he wanted to rekindle the marriage,” says Mark’s mother Linda Powell. “His heart was broken.”
June 3, 2005 was supposed to be a night out with his boys. Some of Mark’s cousins and friends were hanging out when they decided to grab some food at a Chinese carryout on Greenmount Avenue.
“At that point, (Mark) gets out by himself, walks around on Greenmount Avenue to pick up the food when his friends report hearing a bunch of gunshots,” says Sgt. Carl Rach with the Baltimore City Police Cold Case Squad.
The cousins told police they ran out of the car and found Mark with four gunshot wounds in his back. They dragged him into the car and rushed him to Union Memorial Hospital.
Linda was getting ready for bed. It was just after 1 a.m. when the phone started ringing. Mark’s cousins were on the other end looking for Mark’s wife.
Linda told them she didn’t know where Mark’s wife was and suggested they call her sister who was watching the boys.
A few minutes later Linda’s sister calls back with grave news. Mark was fighting for his life, she told Linda. She needed to go to the hospital right away.
“That seemed like the longest drive,” remembers Linda.
When she got to the hospital she was taken into a room where the rest of the family was waiting. It was Mark’s uncle who told her Mark was already gone.
“I fell down. I just fell flat on my behind. I couldn't believe it,” she remembers.
The surgeon took Linda into another room where he explained to her they were able to pull out three of the bullets. The fourth one went into his liver and the damage was too severe. There was nothing they could do.
The funeral was held a few days later. Linda remembers a packed house full of tearful faces. Her most vivid memory is of her son and the peaceful look on his once worrisome face.
“Mark just looked so peaceful, like he was asleep,” she says. “He had this look on his face like to tell me, ‘Mama, it's ok. It's ok mama. It's ok.’”
For police, Mark’s case is a frustrating one. Six years later, they still have no idea what happened.
“We believe that there are other witnesses out there, but at this point they haven't been identified,” says Sgt. Rach.
Mark’s cousins and friends all told police the same thing. They said they never saw the shooter. They were in the car when they heard the gunfire.
The carryout workers also told police they weren’t able to see anything.
Police also investigated Mark’s wife wondering if their relationship could be a motive for murder.
“At this point in time, there is nothing to indicate that this was related to the domestic situation between him and his wife,” says Sgt. Rach.
Police now just hope someone will hear their plea, see the pain on the faces of Mark’s family, and come forward with information. They promise to keep working until Mark’s killer is brought to justice.
“There is always hope in all these cases that they will be closed,” says Sgt. Rach. “Some just have a tendency to take longer than others.”
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