A 2-year-old girl shot in the face as she sat on the front steps of her home in a drug-plagued East Baltimore neighborhood was in critical but stable condition today at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Kimberly Williams underwent surgery at Hopkins after being hit by an errant bullet yesterday, police said. The bullet had pierced her left cheek and right lip.
Kimberly was in the Hopkins pediatric intensive care unit today.
Witnesses told police the gunman had fled into a nearby house. Two young men were arrested there -- one charged with attempted murder in the shooting, the other with trafficking in cocaine, police said.
Homicide Detective Richard L. James said he could find no reason for the gunfire about 3 p.m. in the 1700 block of N. Port St. It left many neighborhood parents, including Kimberly's father, Albert Williams, enraged.
He observed bitterly: "Right now, black folks don't have any decent place to live -- just drugs, drugs . . . and shooting."
Police said the bullet traveled nearly the length of the block before hitting Kimberly. It was one of at least four shots fired from the intersection of Port and Lanvale streets. Four spent 9mm cartridges were found in the street.
One resident said a gunman ran through the neighborhood shooting at four or five men when an errant bullet struck the young girl. Other residents linked the shooting to the brazen drug dealing in the area.
"What's different about this one [shooting] is that the little girl got shot," said Craig Saunders, 23, who lives near where the shooting occurred. "Most of the shootings go unpublicized, but we have more than our share of gunfire and shootings here."
"[President] Bush is going to the wrong place going down to Dunbar today. If he wants to see something that's not made up for him, tell him to stop up here on his way out of town," Mr. Saunders said.
Charged with the shooting was Enrique Montel Parker, 22, of the 2800 block of Hillsdale Ave., arrested after a police helicopter crew spotted him running from a back door in the 1600 block of N. Montford Ave.
Detective James said occupants of the house claimed they did not know Mr. Parker, who was not carrying a gun when he was captured. The occupants of the house allowed police to send a dog into the dwelling to sniff for the gun -- resulting in the discovery of 83 vials of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $2,000 and drug equipment, authorities said.
But the gun was not found and remained unaccounted for last night, Detective James said.
A resident of the house, William E. Turnage, 23, was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and related offenses. Police said they didn't know the relationship between the two suspects.
Agent Carol A. Opher of the Eastern District Drug Enforcement Unit said the shooting occurred in a "high drug area" frequented by users and dealers of cocaine and heroin.
A woman who lives on Lanvale Street near last night's shooting today said today residents have tried to band together to curb the violence in the area.
"We had block watches, but same of the people watching the blocks were dealing drugs, too," she said. "Then people started quitting because the corner boys started threatening them and scaring them off. They have more authority than anybody else."