Residents in the 400 blocks of Pitman Place and E. Lanvale St. yesterday lamented the death of their neighbor David Mainer -- "Mr. Dave" to many of them -- who was shot to death Friday in cross-fire on the street.
Mr. Mainer was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he died a short time later, police said.
"Mr. Dave was the kind of guy who should have been sitting on a pier by the water with kids at his feet, acting like their granddad," said Debra Powell, 42, "not shot just before Father's Day."
Mr. Mainer, 71, was coming home from North Avenue on an evening stroll in the 1700 block of Greenmount Ave., near his home in the 400 block of Pitman Place, when he was struck in his upper torso by a stray bullet about 7:30 p.m. Friday, city police and neighbors said.
The gunfire erupted between a pedestrian standing on the sidewalk at East Lanvale Street and Greenmount Avenue and a man driving by on Greenmount.
One bullet struck Mr. Mainer, and he collapsed on the steps of a house on East Lanvale Street with his wooden cane -- an item he didn't always need but never went without, neighbors said -- clutched in his hand.
"His death makes Father's Day extremely sad for us who knew him and loved him, because we considered him a fatherly figure here," said Mrs. Powell, who has lived on the same block as Mr. Mainer for three years.
Ronnie Powell added, "Mr. Dave will be missed but certainly not forgotten."
Police are investigating the shooting, but have no suspects,said Officer Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman.
Three other bystanders were injured in cross-fire in East Baltimore last week, Officer Weinhold said.
Friends said Mr. Mainer chatted with neighbors nearly every day, gave stuffed rabbits, bears or dolls to neighborhood children, and often gave his newspaper to bedridden neighbors.
"Mr. Dave was well-known around here for his kind and friendly ways," said Marcie Baker, 29, of the 400 block of E. Lanvale St. "He never spoke a cruel word to anyone.
"I've lived here for 13 years and this block has gone completely downhill," Ms. Baker said. "That man was willing to lend a helping hand to anyone. Who would shoot him?"
Angeline and Willie Paine, who lived across the street from Mr. Mainer for eight years, said he often brought their three children presents of baby blankets, toys and stuffed animals.
"Mr. Dave gave me at least three animals. . . . One was a gray rabbit that was pretty special and a surprise," said Angel Paine, 10.
Mrs. John Harris, 55, of the 400 block of E. Lanvale St. said she will always remember her "backdoor friend" for his generosity. Mr. Mainer brought her ill husband a newspaper almost every day, she said.
"It's so sad and hard to see something so tragic happen to someone you know," she said, looking at the sidewalk where Mr. Mainer collapsed just a few feet from her stoop. "Mr. Mainer loved this place. . . . With more love, things will be all right."