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Woman dead in shooting near Bel Air, first Harford County homicide of 2017

Maj. William Davis of the Harford County Sheriff's Office gives an update on the homicide of a 28- year-old woman in Bel Air South Tuesday morning. (David Anderson, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A 28-year-old woman is dead in a Tuesday morning shooting in Bel Air South, the first homicide of the year in Harford County.

The shooting occurred just before 6 a.m. Tuesday in the 200 block of Clarkes Ridge Court, according to the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

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Residents told responding deputies they heard multiple gunshots. Deputies then found the woman in front of an apartment building in the Calvert's Walk apartment complex near South Tollgate Road and Bel Air South Parkway along the Route 24 corridor.

Maj. William Davis, chief of the HCSO Police Operations Bureau, declined to release the name of the victim, pending notification of her family, during an afternoon briefing at the Sheriff's Office headquarters in downtown Bel Air.

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Davis did say she was African-American, was "a resident of the area" and was found dead at the scene in the apartment building parking lot.

The Harford County Sheriff's Office investigates a homicide in the 200 block of Clarkes Ridge Court south of Bel Air. (David Anderson and Matt Button, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Deputies, he added, were at the scene within five minutes of the first report of shots fired.

"Because the investigation is so early, I can't really discuss where we are with it right now," he said.

"It doesn't appear to be a random act of violence in the community," Davis said. "This appears to be a direct assault."

Davis encouraged anyone who has "even the slightest bit" of information to contact the Sheriff's Office.

"Please call us and let us know, because you never know – that might be a key piece of information that we need," he said.

Anyone with information may call detectives at 410-836-5043.

Yellow crime scene tape was wrapped around the entire parking lot in front of the apartment building Tuesday morning.

Investigators worked under a small blue tent in the lot. They also checked in and around a Volvo SUV.

Police started letting residents out of the affected building late Tuesday morning.

Stacey Kiefer, who has lived in the community for about four months, was allowed out to walk her three dogs one at a time.

She had started to walk them around 5:45 a.m. when she heard gunshots.

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"I was going our the door to walk the dogs, and I heard five gunshots and I turned back around," she said.

Kiefer recognized the sound of gunshots, recalling an incident more than 20 years ago when she witnessed a shooting at her apartment community in Texas.

Kiefer said she usually keeps to herself, but she was comparing details with neighbors across the street after she came out Tuesday.

"This is the most interaction with neighbors I've had since I moved in," she noted.

Resident Amy Berman, who lives across the street from the scene, said she woke up around 7:30 a.m. to the sight of police surrounding the building.

"I just woke up and they were all here," she said.

Berman said she has lived in the community since August.

"I've never seen anything like this," she said. "I usually feel pretty safe."

Wendy Champion, who lives in the same building as Berman, said the sound of gunshots woke her up around 5:45 a.m.

"I heard the gunshots from my bedroom," she recalled. "I heard three or four gunshots; it was really loud."

Champion said both entrances to the horseshoe-shaped Foxhall Drive, which surrounds the spur that is Clarke's Ridge Court, were closed following the shooting.



Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.

She said her husband could not get out when he tried to leave around 6 a.m., but he could get out when he tried again around 6:20 a.m.

Champion said she has lived in the community for about two years.

"It's really nice," she said. "It's beautiful here."

The school day for students at nearby elementary schools was uninterrupted, a spokeswoman said.

"We were notified that there is a police investigation going on this morning. As a precaution, we decided to keep students and staff in the buildings," according to Jillian Lader, spokesperson for Harford County Public Schools.

Anyone with information may contact detectives, or submit a tip to harfordsheriff.org/wanted, or via a text by sending "MCS" to 274637 (CRIMES), or by calling 1-888-540-8477.

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