A security guard — who previously killed a man outside a bar in 2019, and is facing charges in the assault of a patron at another — has been charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 7 fatal shooting of a soccer coach outside a Southeast Baltimore bar, police said.
Keith M. Luckey, 39, was taken into custody Tuesday on charges stemming from the killing of 35-year-old Kevin Torres outside the ChrisT bar in Highlandtown, where Torres had been celebrating a championship win with his team until his stepdaughter was thrown out.
According to charging documents, surveillance video showed that Luckey sprayed Torres with pepper spray from about 8-10 feet away, and Torres threw a brick in his direction. Luckey did not “obey his legal duty to retreat and walk away,” police wrote in charging documents, and instead turned toward Torres and opened fire as Torres was about to throw a second brick, falling to the ground as he squeezed off more shots.
Torres was surrounded by bystanders who could have been struck, police wrote.
“He had a brick,” Luckey told investigators, according to charging documents. “And based on my knowledge, training and experience, I know it to be a weapon that can cause grievous bodily harm or death, so at that point, I took out my weapon, fired, and he was hit.”
A string of shootings by security guards in Baltimore over a one-month span called attention to how security guards are regulated and investigated. Following the shooting of Torres, supporters marched through the streets and held vigils calling for justice.
Torres’ family welcomed news of the charges. After weeks of protests and no news from the city, they started to feel that no one cared about what happened to him or about the Hispanic community.
”Once we found out about everything, it was just extreme amount of relief,” stepson Erick Vincenty told The Baltimore Banner. “Like a major weight lifted off my chest.”
Records show Luckey co-owns a licensed security guard company called American Professional Security LLC. Two months before shooting Torres, Baltimore Police charged Luckey with second-degree assault following a different confrontation with patrons at the ChrisT bar, in which a patron said he suffered a fractured finger and bruises after Luckey struck him with a baton. The patron said Luckey shoved him during an argument after Luckey told the man he couldn’t leave the bar with a beer.
Nicholas T.R. Blendy, deputy executive secretary for the city’s Board of Liquor License Commissioners, said the board was not apprised of that incident by police.
Luckey was previously involved in a fatal shooting in 2019. Luckey told police he tried to break up an argument on the parking lot of the Golden Dragon bar and restaurant in Windsor Mill, and saw that Jerome Dewitt Garrison, 36, had a gun. He said he demanded the man drop the gun, and shot him when he didn’t comply. Luckey was cleared of wrongdoing in that shooting.
At the time of the 2019 shooting, Luckey was identified as a member of the Maryland Air National Guard. He was assigned to the 175th Security Forces Squadron, and was once deployed to Kuwait for seven months. Officials with the Air National Guard could not be reached Tuesday regarding whether Luckey was still a member.
The owners of the ChrisT Bar could not be reached for comment about the shooting or their decision to continue employing Luckey after the September assault charges.
Liquor board records show the ChrisT Bar is owned by Kairah and Daniel Arce, who acquired the liquor license for the property in 2020 using the trade name of “The Twins.”
They previously ran afoul of the liquor board last summer, after receiving a temporary permit for outdoor service due to COVID. Chief Inspector John Chrissomallis said he was hesitant to sign off on the plan because the area around the bar “has seen a lot of violence,” but the owners agreed to a plan that would require a security guard at all times on the deck.
When Chrissomallis visited the business on July 30, 2021, he found an extensive outdoor space that included a swimming pool — large enough that he said he was told they sometimes used a lifeguard. Their outdoor permit was revoked.
The Arces’ attorney, Stephan Fogleman, told the board that the pool was temporary and had been used only for a “promotional video shoot.” The board fined the bar owners $1,000 over the incident.
Torres was the second man to die by the hands of private, armed security guards and the third to be shot by one in the span of about a month. Police charged security guard Kanisha Spence with attempted second-degree murder in the killing of Marquise Powell, 26, at a Royal Farms southeast of Pigtown on Oct. 30. Spence had told detectives she shot Powell because he lunged at her, but police later determined he was being restrained by someone else when he was shot.
Police said when they arrived on scene at the ChrisT Bar after Torres was shot, they encountered “a large number of people screaming and crying.”
Born in Honduras, Torres was president of the Villanueva Soccer Team and was out with members of the team at the ChrisT bar after they won a championship game.
Carmen Ferrer, Torres’ sister-in-law, and her niece, Torres’ stepdaughter, said that Torres was upset about the stepdaughter being kicked out of the bar following an altercation over a cell phone. Torres felt the security guard was too hands-on with her, leading the security guard to push all of them out the door.
But that only made Torres more upset. “Women should not be mistreated, and that’s my daughter,” Ferrer recalled him saying.
The two women said Torres then tried to speak to the security officer inside, despite Ferrer trying to hold him back. That’s when a different security officer at the bar used pepper spray on Torres, they said, causing him to drop to the ground incapacitated. They denied that he had thrown a brick, which police say is contradicted by the surveillance tape.
Luckey was wearing a full security uniform and armed with a Glock .22 handgun and other tactical gear, including mace. His gun was equipped with an extended magazine, and police recovered two other loaded, extended magazines, police wrote in charging documents.
Torres’ wife, Sor, cried in relief when she heard of the charges, said her son Erick Vincenty.
“Sí, Dios, (Yes, God)” Sor Torres kept repeating, her son said.
The killing took a toll on many members of the Highlandtown community. More than 100 people marched through the streets in the first of a week of consecutive protests, calling for justice for Torres. Hundreds also lined up to view the body of Torres during a viewing at Clifton Park, the same soccer field his team had won a championship the day he died.
The family also held soccer tournaments and other fundraising events to raise money to send Torres’ body to Honduras. The community support meant a lot, Vincenty said.
Despite serving in a quasi-policing capacity, security guards are treated more or less as private citizens in the criminal legal system. The same factors being weighed by prosecutors would apply to anyone else, legal experts say.
Maryland State Police, which licenses private armed security guards, doesn’t mandate training for security agencies. They also don’t track shootings or play any oversight role in shooting incidents. Security guards apply for a license only after they are hired by an agency. Then they submit an application and fingerprints for a criminal background check. State police can revoke the license for a felony or misdemeanor in some cases, and security guards can work while their applications are pending.
As of last month, there were 1,312 security agencies licensed to operate in Maryland, according to Maryland State Police data, with 191 headquartered in Baltimore.
Reporters Clara Longo de Freitas and Ben Conarck contributed to this article.