An elderly man who uses an oxygen machine fatally shot a 27-year-old woman and wounded a 16-year-old girl in a confrontation late Friday that involved his wife, one of his grown sons and a crowd of teen-agers loitering on the family's West Baltimore doorstep, city police said.
The dead woman was, police said, the mother of a juvenile in the crowd of teens rousted by the elderly man's son from the front of a house in the 500 block of Bloom St. in the Druid Heights neighborhood.
Luciana Torrecella of the 2100 block of Division St. was declared dead at the scene of a gunshot wound to the chest. Latifa Masson, 16, of the 1600 block of W. North Ave. was shot in the arm. She was treated at University Hospital and released.
The incident was reminiscent of the case of Nathaniel Hurt, the Baltimore man sentenced to five years in prison in June in the killing of a 13-year-old boy who Hurt said was among a group of youths who had harassed him repeatedly. That case provoked a citywide debate over the issue of residents striking back in the face of perceived harassment.
Police said Friday's incident began around 10:30 p.m. when a man in the 500 block of Bloom St., just south of West North Avenue, ordered a group of loud teen-agers to leave his front porch steps.
The teen-agers and the man, described as being in his early 30s, got into an argument as the man began to shove the youths off the steps, police said. One teen-ager then left and returned with his mother, who confronted the man, police said.
At some point, police said, an unidentified teen-ager in the crowd picked up a piece of wood and began to hit the man. As the man was being hit, his mother -- a 61-year-old woman -- came out of the house and was threatened.
The woman's husband -- who is 75 -- entered the fray, firing two shots from a handgun, police said.
No charges had been filed as of last night in the incident, and police would not release the names of the elderly man, his wife or son, pending further investigation. None of the three could be located yesterday by reporters.
The case was sent to the city state's attorney's office for review to determine what, if any, charges would be brought.
Police regard the area around Bloom Street as rife with drugs and the violent crime that comes with them, but whether drugs were involved in the shootings was unknown yesterday.
"We make a lot of arrests in this area, and we get a lot of calls to
move people off the corners and off people's steps," said Sgt. Charles Hymiller, the sector sergeant for the area.
Pearlie Mae Archabale, a neighbor of the house where the shooting occurred, said drug addicts and gangs of teen-agers make the block inhospitable.
"If you tell them move on, they'll cuss you out and jump on your car," Miss Archabale said.
James Thomas, 28, a clerk at Gloria Grocery down the street from the scene of the shooting, said he rarely saw the elderly man. Usually, he said, the man would stay in his house, always with his oxygen machine.
"He never went outside," Mr. Thomas said. "You know with all the hoodlums hanging around there, he said he'd rather stay in the house than come out."
Other residents in the tightly packed neighborhood said crowds of teen-agers and drug addicts frequently loiter on the steps of people's homes. One man walking on the block yesterday said (( shootings were frequent.