When the shots rang out early Wednesday, it was quickly clear that 16-year-old Terron Singleton had borne the brunt of the attack. He was hit multiple times in the chest, and his friends — who had also been shot — put him into a car and drove to Sinai Hospital, hoping in vain to save his life.
Hours later, a dozen relatives and friends filled the porch of Airene Miller's home in the shadow of Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore. They grieved by recalling Terron's quick wit and prowess for fixing anything mechanical. They bemoaned the relentless pace of Baltimore violence that shows no sign of abating.
"I wish I could make it all go away," said his aunt, Tashika Pindell. "My heart goes out to all the families."
Terron, a student at Baltimore Community High School who rode dirt bikes, is the latest and among the youngest casualties in a torrent of violence in Baltimore's impoverished neighborhoods since May.
Seven others were wounded in overnight shootings. At least three more shootings were reported later Wednesday. That followed more than 20 shootings from Friday to Monday in which 11 people died.
Thirteen juveniles have been killed this year in Baltimore.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake offered a theory, saying that much of the violence is being fueled by an internal power struggle within the Black Guerrilla Family. Police had touted a federal indictment of reputed gang leaders last month, but Rawlings-Blake said the recent shootings could be fallout.
"Violence is like an infectious disease," she said Wednesday at her weekly news conference. "It is contagious, and you have retaliations."
Kevin Davis, the interim police commissioner, called Terron's death a tragedy and said detectives are investigating. Police suggested he might have been targeted, saying the teen had been a "person of interest" they wanted to question in a previous shooting. His family denied he had any involvement.
Davis' comments came as police announced arrests in four recent homicides, including the shooting June 12 of Steven Bass, 33, in the 2200 block of N. Fulton Ave.
Police allege Brandon Payton, 21, "dressed up in female clothing to get close to [Bass] so he could murder him." A witness directed officers to a car the shooter had touched, and Payton was matched through fingerprints, police said.
Detectives arrested Adam Melvin in the shooting death of Dante Barnes, 39, last weekend in the 2600 block of N. Boone St., and charged Randy Jones in the fatal stabbing July 7 of Antonio Anderson, 25. Police also made arrests in five nonfatal shootings.
"That's the type of progress that this violent-crime crisis needs," Davis said. "We're hitting on all cylinders. We're working around the clock. We're collaborating the way our community demands."
A day earlier, police had announced the arrests of several people and the seizure of seven guns — a half-victory given that two of the people charged were workers for one of the city's Safe Streets anti-violence programs. Their arrests prompted city officials to suspend Safe Streets operations indefinitely in East Baltimore.
Around the corner from Terron's home in Park Heights, wax from a candlelight vigil covered the sidewalk Wednesday outside a house where Reginald Jones and Reanotta Ford sat on a porch. They knew the youth, with Ford calling him "really intelligent" and saying he was a good mechanic.
The candle wax, however, was for Jones' son and Ford's nephew, Kevin Jones, 22, who was killed in June in the parking lot at Pimlico. He was employed as a security guard there and was shot while walking to work.
Jones said it was "4:53 a.m. and he was supposed to be there at 5."
Detectives say robbery might have been the motive. No arrest has been made.
"The only thing he did was work every day and come home and stay in the house," Ford said. "He wasn't in the street."
Ford said she has spent many of her 51 years in Park Heights and she believes the violence is worse than ever.
"I most definitely don't be out here at night," she said. "I'm scared. Basically, what I do, I try to get everything I need before it gets dark, so that way I don't have any reason to come outside. It's that bad out here."
Jones said, "There's a lot of gang members up here. ... They're beefing over petty stuff, but that's just the way gangs are."
The place where Terron and his three friends were shot is within view of their porch. Two cars parked in the block were hit with bullets, as was the home of an elderly woman.
A fearful 37-year-old resident who would identify herself only as "Gwen" said her son knew the victims and could easily have been among those shot.
"It's sad. It's a war," she said. "If they don't get it right, it's going to get worse."
Baltimore Sun reporters Yvonne Wenger and Kevin Rector contributed to this article.