A 3-year-old East Baltimore boy was killed by stray gunfire last night in front of his family's rowhouse in the 900 block of E. Biddle St.
The child, Andre Antonio Dorsey, was hit about 7 o'clock when an East Baltimore youth fired a single shot at a man who was running up the street, police said. The child was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Charged with first-degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a felony is Rudolph Horton Jr., 15, of the 1200 block of N. Bond St. He was being sought today.
Young Dorsey is the 17th child under the age of 15 to be hit by gunfire in Baltimore this year and at least the seventh to be hit by a stray bullet. He is the second of those children to die so far this year -- the other was a 13-year-old boy killed on Saturday in what police believe was a drug-related shooting.
Last night, family members and neighbors sobbed inside Andre's home, and a female city police officer wept outside the front door as she was comforted by a fellow officer.
"It's sad, it's so sad. Innocent babies are the ones that are paying for this world of drugs," said Rose Long, a close family friend who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years. "It's drugs, from morning till night, then from night till morning."
Sgt. Gary Childs, of the city homicide squad, said a warrant charging the Horton youth with first-degree murder and a handgun violation was issued last night.
"I don't know the suspect," Sergeant Childs said, "but he's known to several officers in the Eastern District."
Sergeant Childs said the suspect spotted a man who robbed him a few days ago leave the Lounge liquor store and bar not far from young Dorsey's house and pursued him while pulling out a revolver, either a .32- or .38-caliber.
The sergeant said the pursued man was running directly toward the child when the suspect fired one shot.
Sergeant Childs said the child was attempting to scurry up the steps toward his front door and was bent over when the gunman fired a shot.
The sergeant said the bullet struck the child in the back. He said the projectile then went up through the back, through the neck and entered the child's head.
"We think the child's head was hunched down toward his shoulder when the bullet passed through the back and neck and into his head," said Sergeant Childs.
The officer said the man being pursued escaped, but people in the neighborhood provided police with information about the robbery a few days ago.
"The motive," said Sergeant Childs, "was retribution."
Andre is the youngest of eight children in his family, who range in age up to 16, family members said. Most were too emotional to speak for more than a few moments.
Ms. Long said the boy's parents "are poor folks, on social service, and they don't even have the money to bury him. I hope people will help them out."
Shootings killed children ages 6 and 3 a month apart in West Baltimore last year. So many such shootings have occurred in recent years in Baltimore that doctors at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center have been outspoken in denouncing the violence and the availability of guns.
Neighbors around the Dorsey home said they have heard gunshots and seen drug deals going on in plain sight throughout the neighborhood, which has several boarded-up homes and debris lying along the sidewalks.
When a reporter asked about drug problems in the neighborhood, they laughed at the question. "You don't know where you are, do you?" one woman said angrily. "This is a battle zone."
Ms. Long said she saw about seven or eight young boys standing at the far end of the street when the shooting began.
She said she was sure that the killing will be attributed somehow to drugs.
"I've lived here for 15 years and seen it get worse and worse each year," she said. "The last few years have been really bad. They shoot kids all the time, like it's nothing."
The victim in Saturday's shooting was Antwan "Troy" Stewart, a seventh-grader who slipped out of his Mondawmin-area home on Holmes Avenue while his parents slept. Shortly after 4:30 a.m., in the 2300 block of Whittier Ave., someone placed a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
City police suspected drugs were involved because empty plastic bags -- a type used to package cocaine -- were found on Antwan's body. But no drugs were found, and the boy's parents found it hard to believe their son was involved in such activity.
A suspect, Kevin Felipa, 29, of the 500 block of S. Beechfield Ave., was arrested Sunday night and charged with first-degree murder.