Police say it was a commonplace teen-age love triangle. But an 18-year-old is charged with trying to settle the dispute with a gun.
It has been three days since 17-year-old Derek Anthony Harris was shot outside his apartment in Columbia's Hickory Ridge village. He returned to his home Friday afternoon, bandages covering his shoulder wound and a .32-caliber bullet lodged in his neck, family members and county prosecutors said.
Derrick A. Hayes, 18, of the 3800 block of Cedar Drive in Lochearn is accused of shooting him and is being held at the Howard County Detention Center without bail. He is charged with attempted first-degree murder and assault with intent to murder.
The 15-year-old girl who police say was at the center of the dispute was charged Friday with being an accessory after the shooting, authorities said. The girl, who police say was in the gunman's car during the shooting, was released to parental custody. Her name is not being released because of her age.
"My brother could have died," said Trina Johnson, the Harris youth's sister. "This was stupid."
Police still are trying to sort out the details of what they called a love triangle turned tragedy.
Young Mr. Harris moved from Randallstown into his sister's home in Columbia's Hickory Ridge village in January. He began settling into what he thought was a "slow" community, and also looked forward to joining their mother in Atlanta in April, Ms. Johnson said. "He was tired of the Baltimore area," she said.
The Wilde Lake High School student did not participate in athletics or many other school events. His sister called him "a ladies' man."
According to his relatives, the Harris youth dated a 15-year-old Wilde Lake student in January. The youth ended the relationship after a week, they said.
Since then, Ms. Johnson said, her brother had complained about Mr. Hayes following him home from school and picking fights with him.
Police say the tension sparked Thursday afternoon's violent confrontation.
When the school day ended at Wilde Lake High School at 2 p.m., Mr. Hayes, a high-school graduate, picked up the girl in his gold-colored Saturn, police said.
The Harris youth rode a school bus to the 11600 block of Little Patuxent Parkway, where he and a group of friends were dropped off about 2:30 p.m. Police say a man armed with a handgun had been waiting and confronted the youth.
The gunman "put the gun in [the teen-ager's] mouth, but the release wouldn't work," Ms. Johnson quoted her brother as telling her. When the youth ran, police said, a shot grazed his lip.
The youth ran toward his home a block away, but the gunman -- who was driving -- was waiting outside his apartment building in the Poplar Glen complex.
"I was up here and heard Derek yelling my name, 'Trina, Trina,' " Ms. Johnson said. "I saw a guy get out of a car with his hand in his pocket."
The youth's sister said she ran down the stairs from their third-story apartment but heard a shot ring out before she reached the outside door. When she went outside, her brother was lying on his back, bleeding from the shoulder and from where his head hit the concrete, she said.
The gunman ran back to his car and drove off, police said.
"I thought my brother was gone," Ms. Johnson said. "I was scared."
Someone called 911. County police arrived, and rescue workers treated the Harris youth and flew him to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in downtown Baltimore in a state police MedEvac helicopter.
Minutes later, police stopped Mr. Hayes' vehicle at a Wilde Lake intersection blocks from where he had dropped his girlfriend off at her home. A .32-caliber handgun was found hidden on the floor of the car, they said.
Sgt. Steve Keller, a police spokesman, said police do not believe Mr. Hayes' girlfriend was involved in the shooting but that she was charged with staying in the car after the assault took place.