Clara Bea Canty has been a permanent fixture on her Calverton Road rowhouse steps, where she's known as "Grandma" or "Mrs. Canty" to the neighborhood — even to the corner boys hustling drugs, she and her son said.
When they see the 93-year-old walking with her cane to the nearby Food Depot, they'll often stop to ask if she needs anything or offer her a ride.
On Wednesday, Canty was sitting on the base of her steps when shooting broke out a few feet away, killing a 23-year-old man and injuring a 17-year-old male. A bullet also grazed the top of Canty's head, sending her to the hospital.
"It's just something that I never experienced before. I never seen a person that got killed all of a sudden," Canty said Thursday.
Two plainclothes officers conducting an unrelated investigation in the area witnessed the shooting and arrested Spence Jeffers, 24, at the scene. Jeffers is charged with first-degree murder, handgun violations and additional charges.
Police have not identified either victim.
"This just speaks to some of the recklessness of these criminals who want to wreak havoc on the city of Baltimore," police spokesman T.J. Smith said at a news conference Thursday.
After one shot, Canty said, she tried to grasp the railing and stand up, but felt dizzy.
"I just couldn't move," she said. "I didn't see them. I wasn't really paying attention. I remember saying, 'Oh Lord, the man got shot. He's dead.'"
Then she felt a stinging. She joked that she had just put lotion on her arms, and used some to smooth down her otherwise "wild" hair.
"It slid the bullet," she said.
She said she knew she had been hit and called out for her son Robert, who was inside listening to the radio.
Robert Canty, 67, said an EMS crew arrived and his mother was taken to the hospital. She said doctors were concerned about her elevated blood pressure and released her four hours later.
Police said the 17-year-old victim was treated at a hospital and released.
"The 93-year-old certainly was not the intended target of this," Smith said. He said the 23-year-old was likely the target, but police did not know of a motive.
Court records show Jeffers, of the 7000 block of McClean Blvd., was scheduled to appear in court next week on charges that include illegally possessing a handgun.
An attorney listed for Jeffers in that case did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday afternoon.
The fatal shooting outside Canty's house was one of three killings Wednesday. A 34-year-old man was killed in the 3300 block Brighton St. in the Rosemont neighborhood. And a 21-year-old was fatally shot in the 2400 block of E. Northern Parkway in the neighborhood of Hamilton Hills. Police identified him Thursday as Keenan Stanfield.
Three others were injured in two shootings Thursday morning. Two men, ages 25 and 19, were found wounded in the 3000 block of Cherryland Road about 12:35 a.m. and were taken to the hospital. And a 22-year-old man was shot just before 12:30 a.m. in the 2100 block of Frederick Ave.
Police on Thursday also identified four victims of fatal shootings that occurred last week. Brandon Smith, 21, of the 3000 block of Monument St. was killed in the 200 block of N. Conkling St. on Aug. 18. Angelo Yancy, 28, of the 600 block of S. Beachfield St. was killed in the 2200 block of Ashton St. the same day.
Jason Summers, 43, of the 700 block of N. Hilton St. was killed in the 1100 block of W. Saratoga St. in Poppleton two days later. And Darryl Wyche, 24, of the first block of Straw Hat Road died Saturday in a shooting in the 2700 block of N. Longwood St., near Lake Ashburton in the Hanlon-Longwood community.
Anyone with information on the shootings is asked to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.