On the Fourth of July, Lloyd Muldrow walked into Tequila Sunset on Pennsylvania Avenue in Penn North after a man had pistol-whipped his friend inside the social club.
Muldrow, 58, of Hubert, North Carolina — a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who deployed to Grenada and Beirut, and has also served as a firearms safety instructor — jumped in and helped pin down the attacker. The assailant, Wesley Henderson Jr., has since pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, according to online court records.
Baltimore Police responded to the bar and asked, “Where’s the gun?” Muldrow replied, “It’s on my hip,” according to body camera video. His friend later told law enforcement, “If he wouldn’t have helped me, the guy would’ve killed me.”
Police filed charges against Muldrow. Although he had a concealed carry permit from Virginia, it’s not accepted in Maryland. He did not draw his weapon during the struggle.
On Monday, Muldrow pleaded guilty in Baltimore Circuit Court to wearing, carrying or transporting a loaded handgun without a permit. Circuit Judge Cynthia Jones then struck the finding of guilt and sentenced him to probation before judgment.
Muldrow, she said, found himself in a “very precarious situation.” Jones said she’s from Brooklyn, New York, and could more freely speak if she was not on the bench.
“Even when you’re a gun owner, you have to be a responsible gun owner,” Jones told Muldrow. “I do appreciate your candor to the court.”
The case received national attention in the press. An online fundraiser brought in more than $41,500 to help Muldrow with legal expenses.
Earlier, Steve Klepper, one of Muldrow’s attorneys, argued that there was no constitutional legal framework at the time to restrict his client’s rights in Maryland.
The U.S. Supreme Court on June 23 ruled that a New York law requiring people to show that they had a special need for self-defense to obtain a concealed carry permit was unconstitutional.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals on July 1 issued an opinion that held that a similar provision in state law that made people demonstrate they had a “good and substantial reason” to receive a wear and carry permit was unconstitutional. Attorney General Brian Frosh did not appeal that ruling.
Meanwhile, Gov. Larry Hogan on July 5 instructed the Maryland State Police to stop enforcing that provision.
Klepper noted that he’s a father who lives in Baltimore and urged the judge to throw out the case, warning that a potential appeal could become a “runaway train” that might affect other convictions in the state.
The statement of charges, he said, reads like the fact section to an opinion from Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, a member of the high court’s conservative wing who wrote the decision for the majority in the recent New York concealed carry case.
Plus, Klepper said, his client “restrained a gun-wielding attacker” but ended up getting arrested.
“He saved people at a social club,” Klepper later said. “This reads like a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode.”
Police reported that law enforcement did not find the other handgun at the bar.
But Assistant State’s Attorney Marty Welch questioned whether Muldrow had standing to make such a legal challenge.
Welch noted that Maryland does not accept concealed carry permits from Virginia.
“He didn’t apply for the license in Maryland,” said Welch, who brought up Facebook posts that showed Muldrow in Baltimore in the past at places including Oriole Park at Camden Yards. “There’s a due diligence factor here that Mr. Muldrow didn’t follow.”
Next, Michael Stark, one of Muldrow’s attorneys, suggested a sentence of probation before judgment as a potential offramp to avoid an appeal.
Muldrow agreed to the plea agreement, which does not constitute a conviction. He accepted responsibility for what happened.
But, he told the judge, he tried to save lives.