Judge Sends Message on Behalf of Community with Century-Long Sentences For Harrowgate Gunmen
Imagine a day in court on which the judge has to throw one convict’s fiancée out of the courtroom for making faces before kicking the other’s father out for letting his cell phone ring out loud. Then, after the judge offers the defendants one final opportunity to ask for clemency, one convict denies his guilt and throws about half a dozen people under the bus as being drug dealers while the other has nothing to say for himself.
This is not an episode of your favorite courtroom drama — Judge Judy wouldn’t touch this case with a 10-foot pole. This all happened during the sentencing hearing of a botched hit that resulted in seven people being shot two summers ago in Harrowgate.
But the chaos of the legal proceedings paled in comparison to what happened on June 22, 2015. That afternoon, on the 700 block of E. Hilton St., a small street on the edge of the neighborhood, two men, Dennis Tindal and Keith Warren, stormed up the block with a pistol-grip equipped 12-gauge shotgun and began firing.
While the men targeted by the shooters were hit, so were a handful of innocent bystanders, including two children and their mother, who were cooling off in an inflatable pool on that 90-degree day. Fortunately for the seven victims, the only thing these two perpetrators did worse than handle their sentencing hearings is aim: All seven people survived.
The crime scene, which included a deflated pool with water running down the street, was so horrific that even the grizzled Crime Scene Unit officers, the folks that see a couple hundred dead bodies each year, were taken aback. The unit pitched in and bought a new pool for the family. But even a new pool can’t take back the terror and pain they endured that hot summer day.
Assistant District Attorney David Osborne pointed out that, given the time of day the incident occurred, the block’s residents were lucky that “only seven people got hit. It could have been triple” that number.
Warren did all of the shooting, but he did it under orders from Tindal, who supplied the weapon. The reason for the shooting? Tindal got a beating for disrespecting a woman on the block earlier that day and ran away. Exposed as being weak and scared, he needed to regain his respect by eliminating the man who beat him. Warren picked up Tindal and convinced him to brandish the firearm and pull the trigger. The shooting occurred at around 2:30PM that day.
Osborne couldn’t find words to express his true feelings about Tindal, so he settled for “one of the worst human beings I’ve ever had the [displeasure] of being in contact with.”
At the sentencing, Warren carried himself the way you’d expect a grown man who spent 95 percent of his adult life in prison to carry himself: slouched, quiet, and defiant. The few times he spoke were in a whisper, like when a big tough guy orders a Malibu Bay Breeze at a sports bar. His father, who had been ejected earlier due to his ringing phone, was invited back in by the judge to speak for his son, but he’d already left the building. That must’ve been an important call.
Tindal carried himself exactly like a guy who can’t handle his own battles. In his 15-minute dissertation, he confessed to just about every crime except his own. If he would’ve gone 20 minutes he’d have confessed to the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, but still denied he had anything to do with his own shotgun shooting the guy who cold-cocked him a few hours earlier. If the judge had any inkling of giving a light sentence of, say, 40 years or so, he probably changed his mind about four words in.
While the victims were not ready to talk, members of the community came to give impact statements. Leaders of the Harrowgate Civic Association and the 24th PDAC testified.
The most passionate of them was Bill Summers, who runs the Town Watch Services program for East Division, but more aptly describes himself as an “agent for change.” He pointed to his efforts and those of others to rebuild the community.
Osborne asked him how violence like this affects what he’s trying to do in these neighborhoods.
“For real, for real, it makes it really, really hard,” Summers said. “One of the biggest things is loss of hope, that things seem to perpetuate themselves. [They see bad things] and they say, ‘Bill, what’s it all for?’ ‘We still got people dying.’ They hear about this and they feel like, ‘We’re doomed.’”
Judge Daniel McCaffery labeled the crime as “Domestic Terrorism… designed to send a message to the good folks of Kensington,” he said. “So let me send a message to you,” he said as he sentenced Tindal to a total of 105 to 210 years in prison. “It’s safe to say your one-man crime wave is over.”
McCaffery told Warren that since he liked to follow Tindal’s orders in the shooting, “now you can follow him to jail.” Warren got 100 to 200 years in prison. •