A 13-year-old girl was critically wounded in an accidental shooting at an East Baltimore row house yesterday, and city police investigating the incident walked into an apparent narcotics operation and seized three handguns still in their boxes and $13,000 in cash from the house.
The victim of the shooting, Tezar T. Horsey of the 1700 block of Rutland Avenue, was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital with a gunshot wound to the right temple. She was in critical condition last night, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.
Police and paramedics went to the row house in the 1700 block of East Oliver Street after a call from the house reporting a shooting just before 10 a.m.
They found Tezar lying on the floor of a second-floor rear bedroom with the wound in her head.
A .22-caliber handgun was recovered from the room, and a 14-year-old youth there said he accidentally shot Tezar while "fooling around" with the handgun, Dennis S. Hill, a city police spokesman, said.
"We have no reason not to believe him," Mr. Hill said. He said the youngster told homicide detectives that he thought the gun was not loaded.
The girl's aunt said the youth had been Tezar's boyfriend for about two years.
The youth, who lives in the house, told police he was keeping the handgun for a friend but refused to identify the friend.
The 14-year-old was charged as a juvenile with reckless endangerment and a handgun violation. Police said the youth could face more serious charges if Tezar dies.
At the house, police said, they saw a large amount of cash and narcotics paraphernalia in the bedroom.
Police went back to the house yesterday afternoon after obtaining a search warrant. They found $1,000 in cash lying in the open and about $12,000 hidden in a plastic bag in the ceiling of the second-floor bedroom, they said.
They found three new handguns still in manufacturer's boxes: an 8mm Beretta semiautomatic with a laser scope, a .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic handgun and another .22-caliber revolver, police said.
They also found narcotics packaging material, including glassine bags and mixing agents for cocaine, police said. They said that some bags had cocaine residue and were lined with pepper, a method used by cocaine dealers to confuse dogs trained to sniff out the illicit drug.
Anthony Jones, 18, a cousin of the boy charged in the shooting, and another 14-year-old boy, both residents of the house, were taken into custody.
Mr. Hill said Mr. Jones was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and possession of a handgun used in drug trafficking. Mr. Jones had been awaiting trial on other drug charges and was in the Eastern District lockup last night pending a bond hearing on the latest charges, he said.
The 14-year-old youth was charged as a juvenile with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, Mr. Hill said.
Asked if the boy involved in the shooting might also face narcotics charges, Mr. Hill said, "He couldn't have been sitting in the middle of that junk without knowing what was going on."
"If she dies, his activities will probably be overlooked, because we will have to deal with the more serious charges," he said.
"They said they got drugs out of there, but I don't know if he was connected with drugs or not," Tezar's aunt, Adrian Rowlett, said. "He seemed to be a nice person, but you never know."
The girl's grandmother, Josephine Rowlett, said Tezar, called "Tess" by her family, is an "outgoing, free-spirited" girl who is "crazy about dancing" and loves to swim. Relatives said Tezar recently graduated from Canton Middle School and would enter ninth grade at Lake Clinton High School next fall.
Investigators said they had been aware of an organization distributing cocaine from New York in the area since last September and had received information in the past few days linking the East Oliver Street house to drug activity.
"We were definitely targeting it," said Officer Edward Bochniak of the Eastern District. Several people had been arrested in the past from that house for drug activity, he said, and investigators suspected the organiza
tion operating out of the house employed several juveniles as couriers and to sell drugs.
Six people were in the building when the shooting occurred, but police were uncertain how many live in the house. Police said the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has joined the investigation.
Charges against others are possible, police said.
A woman at the row house who identified herself as owner of the house -- but would not give her name -- said she had no knowledge of drug activity in her home.
"I thought I had three nice teen-age boys, but I see I had three meanies," she said.