When the shooting had finally stopped, 18-year-old Valerie Williams lay under the same white tarp as Gerald Watkins, the 17-year-old father of her 6-month-old son.
The murder-suicide yesterday in the 600 block of Melville Ave. apparently was prompted by a fight over an unspecified photograph. Mr. Watkins of the 2700 block of The Alameda first shot Ms. Williams' mother, Mary, while she held her young grandchild, then chased his girlfriend, killing her before turning a semiautomatic pistol on himself, witnesses and police said.
Mary Williams was listed in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital late yesterday with head and back wounds. Carmelita Sykes, a neighbor and family friend who washed blood from the baby after the shooting, said the boy did not appear to be hurt.
"This is a quiet neighborhood," said Ms. Sykes, 30, who has lived on Melville Avenue in Waverly for 16 years. "At first, I thought the shooting was . . . firecrackers. This is very hard to swallow."
Police were aware of trouble in the Williams home even before shooting began. Sabrina V. Tapp-Harper, a police spokeswoman, said Mr. Watkins hit Ms. Williams about 11 a.m. yesterday during an argument over the photograph. A police officer was called to the scene, but the man had disappeared.
Shortly before noon, the officer returned to the Northern District police station to get a camera that was to be used to photograph Ms. Williams' injuries, Officer Tapp-Harper said. Before the policeman reached the station, neighbors had called to report the shooting.
Ms. Sykes and other friends of the Williams family said Valerie Williams and her boyfriend had fought before. Valerie's older sister had warned her against seeing the boyfriend, Ms. Sykes said.
LeRoy Williams, Valerie's father, blamed police for not being active in their response to the initial assault report, calling officers' handling of the case "junk." Officer Tapp-Harper said that with Mr. Watkins gone, the Northern District officer who responded to the original call felt that Valerie Williams was safe.
According to witness and police accounts, Mr. Watkins shot Mary Williams twice in the back and once in the head, then chased Ms. Williams one block east along the north side of Melville, firing at her at least three times.
Keith Littlejohn, a Baltimore cook who saw the chase, said Mr. Watkins yelled, "You shouldn't do that. I'm going to kill you," as he fired.
Ms. Williams was hit at least twice, leaving a trail of blood drops on the sidewalk beginning at 628 Melville. She slumped to the ground and died on the front lawn of a rowhouse in the 700 block.
After she collapsed, Mr. Watkins stood over his victim and shot himself with a semiautomatic pistol, witnesses said.
Witnesses indicated that two guns might have been used in the shooting. Officer Tapp-Harper said a .38-caliber revolver was found in the area where Mary Williams was shot and that the semiautomatic was recovered from the suspect's hand.
Residents of Melville Avenue, just west of Memorial Stadium, said they were shocked by the shooting. The neighborhood is a quiet, middle-class community where residents typically own their homes, Ms. Sykes said.
"This is too close to home," said Pete Taylor, 38, also a neighbor of the Williamses. "I'm scared."
It was the second killing resulting from a domestic dispute in as many days in the city. Wednesday morning, 19-year-old Shirley Hawkins, a mother of three, was shot in her home in the 1000 block of N. Castle St. in East Baltimore.
The children, who were placed in the custody of relatives, witnessed their mother's death, officers said. Police said they were searching for Ms. Hawkins' 24-year-old boyfriend, Levon "Bubbles" Carrington, whose address was not immediately available.