Marion Jean had just started bringing her young children back to the playground at the old Memorial Stadium site in Waverly. An intentionally set fire at the playground in 2008, as well as more recent reports of a stabbing, had caused her to take her children to other YMCA sites in the area.
So on Tuesday, she was shaken when she learned that a man had been shot in the head just steps from the playground. On Wednesday morning, the 30-year-old man died from his injuries at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"It bothers me a lot," Jean, 38, of Northeast Baltimore, said as her 5-year-old and 18-month-old children played nearby.
City police said the unidentified victim was found shot in the head at about 4:30 p.m. inside his black Lexus at the intersection of Ellerslie Avenue and 34th Street. The intersection is between Waverly Elementary and the YMCA center and playground. Dozens of children and families passed through the area as police investigated.
At the crime scene, the vehicle was at a stop sign, the passenger-side door open and what appeared to be the victim's clothes on the ground where medics had earlier rendered aid.
The shooting shocked residents of the neighborhood, who said violence is uncommon there.
"There's kids everywhere," said Ebony Fletcher, 26, as she pushed a boy on a tire swing. "Whoever did it just didn't care."
"I've been here 21 years, and I've never seen anything like this," said another woman, who refused to give her name.
Detective Jeremy Silbert, a police spokesman, said preliminary information indicated that a gunman had approached the vehicle on foot, fired into the vehicle, and fled on foot. The victim was taken to an area hospital, where he was being treated for his injuries.
Jean said that the recent incidents at the playground, including the fire, had caused concern, but she praised the YMCA for working hard to keep the area clean and safe. A full-time staff member is assigned to watch over the playground, which is only open when the recreational center is open.
That staff member and others interviewed by a reporter said they did not hear the gunshots.
Silbert said police hope any witnesses will come forward with tips that could help solve the case. Anyone with information was asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.