Over the weekend, the arrest of a 19-year-old man on a handgun charge caught my eye. His name? Omar Little.
That of course is the name of the iconic stick-up man from "The Wire," a show that was based heavily on real people and events from Baltimore's crime history. Though the Omar character was said to be based on several people - Shorty Boyd, Donnie Andrews, Ferdinand Harvin, Billy Outlaw and Anthony Hollie - none of them were actually named "Omar Little."
I reached out to the show creator and former Sun reporter David Simon to see whether there was, in fact, an Omar Little who Simon or his writing partners had come across and used as the namesake for the character. Simon replied that the existence of a real life Omar Little was "coincidence, completely."
Fans of the show, however, seemed to delight in the news that there was actually someone in Baltimore with that name, allegedly committing gun crimes, no less. The Wire's Omar was a Robin Hood of the inner city, a shotgun-toting "man with a code" who President Barack Obama said was his favorite character. My tweet about his arrest was been "re-tweeted" hundreds of times and led to stories on blogs such as The Huffington Post and The Daily What, and then today on BuzzFeed and The Onion's AV Club.
Records show this Omar Little, a 19-year-old whose full name is Omar Little Jr., has been in trouble before. A copy of the police report for the arrest shows he was known to officers, and was arrested after being observed in the 1700 block of Cliftview Ave. passing a loaded handgun to a 16-year-old boy. Officers wrote in the report that Little had juvenile arrests for handgun possession and drug distribution.
He was taken into custody and initially held on $350,000 bond, but at a bail review hearing Tuesday a District Court judge ordered that he be held without bond.
It's a far more serious situation than someone happening to share a name with a fictional character.
And of course, there's plenty of people named Omar Little out there, though only three in the Baltimore area from what I can tell. I called one of them, a 40-year-old who lives in the Baltimore suburb of Essex (and who has no criminal record, mind you), and got his mom, who said her son was named after the Egyptian-born actor Omar Sharif.
"There's a whole lot of them, mister. You just happened to look up on one," said Gloristine Little, 66.
[This post has been updated]