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‘Everybody is unsettled’: Woodlawn neighborhood, a destination for those searching for a better life, tries to heal after killings

On the northeast edge of Patapsco Valley State Park, nestled amid apartments and about a mile away from Security Square Mall, the town house community of Parkview Crossing in Woodlawn is idyllic and diverse, its residents say.

Saturday, the neighborhood was the site of violence, when resident Everton Brown set his home on fire and shot and killed three neighbors, according to police and witnesses, before Brown was shot and killed by county police officers.

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But residents like Serena Wiley say Parkview Crossing offered an opportunity, a chance to move on from her Windsor Mill apartment.

“This used to be all farmland,” said Wiley, who bought her town home off Kellys Court almost 26 years ago as the neighborhood was being built.

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The census tract that includes the neighborhood is more than 70% Black, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, and an additional 12% of residents are Asian — both significantly higher than the surrounding Woodlawn community and Baltimore County as a whole. The neighborhood is also more educated than the county as a whole, with nearly half of residents having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Most residents have lived in the area for at least a decade.

And a quarter of the roughly 5,000 residents who live in the tract immigrated to the U.S. — about double the county’s share of immigrants — from countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to census estimates.

Serena Wiley, 74, has lived in the Parkview Crossing neighborhood for 25 years. She knew Everton Brown, who shot four neighbors, killing three, before being shot by police on Saturday. She had interacted with him when he was walking his pit bull. Wiley said, "Everyone is unsettled, sad and upset. It's going to take prayer to bring us back together." May 10, 2021
Serena Wiley, 74, has lived in the Parkview Crossing neighborhood for 25 years. She knew Everton Brown, who shot four neighbors, killing three, before being shot by police on Saturday. She had interacted with him when he was walking his pit bull. Wiley said, "Everyone is unsettled, sad and upset. It's going to take prayer to bring us back together." May 10, 2021 (Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)

Wiley noticed her neighborhood start to diversify three years ago as more families and single adults moved into this more affordable enclave of the county, where the attached homes sell for less than the typical home in Baltimore County.

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“People want better,” said Wiley, who moved to the neighborhood, developed by Pulte Homes in the mid-1990s.

Sara Alacote, who was born in Lima, Peru, arrived in the United States as a young woman and moved in with her uncle in Columbia, her son said. She started working at a local McDonald’s and later met her husband, Ismael Quintanilla, who was from San Miguel, El Salvador.

In September 2003, their son was born, and the family eventually moved to a cramped apartment in Savage until Alacote and Quintanilla saved enough money to move to their Woodlawn home in 2017, Anthony Quintanilla, the couple’s son, told The Sun.

Alacote and Quintanilla were fatally shot Saturday in their home by the 56-year-old Brown. Brown set his home on fire and barged into their home, killing them before shooting two other neighbors in the parking lot, killing one — a recent college graduate and Nepal native Sagar Ghimire. Ghimire had moved to the neighborhood one week before his killing with the intent of going to graduate school.

A pile of rubble is all that remains of the Parkview Crossing town home of Everton Brown in Woodlawn. Police shot and killed Brown on Saturday, after he set fire to his town home then shot four neighbors, killing three of them.
A pile of rubble is all that remains of the Parkview Crossing town home of Everton Brown in Woodlawn. Police shot and killed Brown on Saturday, after he set fire to his town home then shot four neighbors, killing three of them. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

Police shot and killed Brown, who neighbors said harassed and intimidated them for years.

“You never think that something like that would happen here, in your neighborhood — this is something that happens somewhere else,” said Mack Davis, who moved to Parkview Crossing 11 years ago through the federal Good Neighbor Next Door program, which cuts costs for law enforcement officers, teachers, emergency medical technicians and firefighters looking to own a home.

Other than the police cars Davis said he frequently saw outside Brown’s home, neighbors said there is little, if any, crime to speak of there. Mostly, residents said, the neighborhood is the kind of place where children roam outside unaccompanied, where passersby stop to chat, where families enjoy strolling through nearby wooded areas with their pets.

“I’m quite sure everybody is unsettled and sad,” Wiley said. “It’s gonna take prayer to heal what happened and to bring the peace back.”

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