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Hitman Who Was Basis for TV Character Dies at 58 Baltimore Sun

A Baltmore hitman named Donnie Andrews, who was the inspiration for a popular television character, has died at 58 from heart complications, reports the Baltimore Sun. Andrews inspired the character Omar Little on HBO's lauded series "The Wire," the story reports.

Andrews developed a code while robbing rival dealers in West Baltimore, vowing never to involve women or children, the report notes. He later confessed to murder and helped authorities bring down a crime syndicate, and then took on the task of helping young people avoid the mistakes he made, the piece says.

"Andrews, whose full name was Larry Donnell Andrews, had been around violence most of his life, physically abused by his mother and watching at age 10 from behind a washing machine as a man was bludgeoned to death for 15 cents. He grew up in the housing projects of West Baltimore, where he was mentored by hustlers and drug dealers. He became a stick-up artist, robbing other drug dealers with a .44 Magnum," the story reports.

In 1986, he was hired by a drug kingpin to take on a contract killing. He later turned himself in, and never tried to get a lesser sentence, according to the former lead prosecutor, Charles Scheeler.

"I prosecuted hundreds of people but this was the only person this happened to,” said Scheeler. “Everyone else in his position has been ‘I will cooperate for less time.’ Donnie was ‘I will cooperate because I want to repent.’ I’ve never had anyone like that. He convinced me.”

David Simon, a former reporter at the Sun who created "The Wire," said, "Donnie wanted change, more than he wanted to breathe air."

Simon sent Andrews copies of the newspaper while he was in jail, and Andrews would call him with information about city crime. Simon later made him a consultant on "The Wire," and he became one of the inspirations for Omar, the story adds.

Andrews appeared on the TV show as part of Omar's crew, and died in a shootout scene where Omar jumps from a four-story building and escapes. Andrews said such an escape had happened to him, although he jumped from the sixth story, the piece adds.