Police: 16-year-old girl fatally shot had been missing since March

Before she was fatally shot and left in the middle of a Northwest Baltimore street, those close to 16-year-old Ahjee Harrod had been trying to prevent her from careening off track, according to her principal.

"She was well-liked, well-rounded and was a sweet girl," said Leslie Lewis, principal of the Baltimore Community High School, where Harrod had been attending class this semester, "but there were some things that she was dealing with that were overpowering her."

Though Lewis did not go into detail, characterizing the issues as "adolescent things," she said her concerns were growing more serious. "I felt like she was at her last hurrah, her wits' end."

Harrod was pronounced dead in the 6300 block of Fairlawn Ave. about 10:05 p.m. Sunday. Police responded to the scene after receiving a report of gunfire and found her alone in the middle of the street.

Police officials did not give a motive for the killing, but said Harrod, whose last known address was in the 2800 block of E. Federal St., was a runaway who had been living away from home since March, and described her as troubled.

"The victim has prior contacts with law enforcement, and an estranged relationship with her family," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. "What we're looking for are individuals who were there at the time of the murder -- witnesses, neighbors."

Lewis described Harrod's family as closely involved in recent intervention efforts. "The family is nothing but supportive of her," she said. "There were things they wanted her to do that she didn't, and they were battling. They were trying so hard with her."

Police also were investigating whether Harrod's death was connected to another recent killing in East Baltimore.

On a Facebook page bearing Harrod's name, a cellphone post Sept. 25 said that an "Uncle Tony" had been killed. A man named Tony Reese, 36, was found shot to death in the basement of his home in the 2700 block of Mura St. two days earlier, and homicide commander Lt. Col. Garnell Green confirmed that Reese was a friend of Harrod's mother.

A motive for that case is not known, and it remains open. As of Tuesday, city police had closed just 31 percent of this year's murder cases, officials said.

Attempts to reach Harrod's family were not successful, but friends and strangers were posting messages of condolences on Facebook Tuesday after her name was made public. A "RIP Ahjee Harrod" page had been "liked" more than 7,000 times by Tuesday afternoon. Many of the messages were from people who said they were not familiar with her but were saddened by news reports of her death.

"I may not have known u ... but my heart weeps for u," one woman wrote.

There have been more women killed so far this year in Baltimore -- 19 -- than all of last year, when 17 were killed. But homicides of juveniles and nonfatal shootings are down substantially.

Anyone with information about the killings of Harrod or Reese is asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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