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Cherry Hill community prays for peace after killing of 1-year-old

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Cherry Hill activist Cleoda Walker says she was at home Friday evening when a divine presence told her to step outside.

Lying on the sidewalk outside was 16-month-old Carter Scott, shot in the leg during what police believe was a targeted attack on his father.

"The baby never moaned or groaned," Walker recalled Wednesday. "As I started to pray, the baby started smiling. I looked down, and his clothes and his Pampers were full of blood."

About 40 people, mostly residents of the Cherrydale Apartments in South Baltimore, emerged after the 7 p.m. shooting and stood around Carter, praying alongside Walker, she said. On Wednesday, at least 100 neighbors gathered, this time for a vigil for the child and to protest the violence that took his life and left his father, Rashaw Scott, critically wounded.

"I felt his spirit coming out," Walker said Wednesday, explaining that residents pulled the infant out of the car after he and his father were shot inside it and awaited an ambulance. "When I saw him smiling, I believe he was seeing the angels."

The vigil on Wednesday was primarily organized by Safe Streets, a group of former gang members and ex-offenders who mediate disputes that have the potential to turn deadly. Gregg L. Bernstein, the state's attorney for Baltimore, told residents his office needed the community's help to address crime. The family of Carter and his father were invited, organizers said, but did not appear to be in attendance.

"Everybody is in an uproar right now, everyone's shaking," said Warren Williams Sr., one of four men called violence interrupters who work for Safe Streets in Cherry Hill. "Someone's bold enough to do that, what does that mean for everyone's safety? Right now, we're just trying to keep tempers down."

The residents gathered in a large circle at the entrance to the apartment complex, just steps from the scene of the shooting, while people took turns with a megaphone, shouting out prayers or lamentations against violence.

"We gather here once again in response to a heinous crime," said Delaino Johnson, a Cherry Hill-based Safe Streets coordinator, shouting his throat raw and wiping away sweat in the middle of the circle. "The men that allegedly committed this, they are throwaways from society."

Cornell Harvey, 26, and Eddie Tarver, 20, have been charged with first- and second-degree murder in Carter's death. Police say Harvey lured Rashaw Scott to Cherry Hill and that three men wearing latex gloves opened fire as father and son sat in a red Chevrolet in the parking lot. The attack came during a bloody Memorial Day weekend in which 12 people were shot.

Scott was in serious condition Wednesday night at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Thea Hall, who works with Cherry Hill children in kindergarten through eighth grade through Higher Achievement Baltimore and came with some of them to the vigil, said the fatal shooting felt "very personal."

"I think it's very tragic for our kids, that that's their reality," she said. "A lot of them are doing what they're told and they're targets, and I don't want them to feel that way."

As the vigil came to a close, people in the circle linked hands, prayed and sang "Amazing Grace." Afterward, they turned to the person next to them, friend or stranger, and hugged.

"It's going to be all right," they told one another.

cwells@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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