A day after a high school senior was shot in the head while sledding, a Howard County neighborhood typically filled with playing children was a "ghost town" yesterday.
Kenneth Harvard, 19, of the 7300 block of Hidden Cove was in serious but stable condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday, the victim of a mysterious shooting Sunday in the Guilford area that county police are investigating.
"It's crazy," said Winifred Daisley, a nearby resident. "It wasn't gang-related or because of a drug deal, so as far as I know, there's somebody out shooting kids."
Police said they don't have many clues.
Detectives were back in the area -- off Oakland Mills Road near Interstate 95 and Route 32 -- yesterday to interview witnesses and look for evidence.
A small dark car was reported driving by moments after the incident.
"We don't know where the shot came from," said Sgt. Steven Keller, a Howard police spokesman. "We don't know if it came from a car, a house or a field."
One key piece of evidence -- a small-caliber bullet -- is lodged in Mr. Harvard's head, police said.
The vision in his left eye is impaired because of the wound, Howard rescue officials said.
Talk of the shooting had reached area schools yesterday.
Mr. Harvard, a senior at Oakland Mills High School, is the county's first shooting victim of the year, police said.
"For us, there's an apprehension to go out, and we're scared," said Mrs. Daisley's daughter, Sarah, 13, a seventh-grader at Owen Brown Middle School.
Mrs. Daisley drove Sarah to school instead of allowing her to wait for her school bus in the same block where the shooting took place.
Big topic in schools
Sarah said she talked about the shooting with friends at school.
"We're afraid to say anything bad to anybody because you don't know if they'll come and shoot you," she said.
After school, her mother wouldn't let her play outside.
Another resident, Danny Brown, said he was keeping a closer eye on his children.
"It's weird," Mr. Brown said. "It changes a lot of things. We're taking precautions."
Shot while sledding
Mr. Harvard and two 10-year-olds were playing on a slope behind two rows of townhouses when he was shot.
Residents call the area "the alley" and consider it safe because children can play there away from traffic.
At 5 p.m. Sunday, as Mr. Harvard and the two boys rode on plastic sleds at the snow-covered alley's intersection with Oakland Mills Road, they heard "popping sounds," police said.
Mr. Harvard felt something strike him in the left temple section of his head and found blood dripping down his neck, police said. He ran to his home for help.
'Calm and was talking'
"He appeared calm and was talking with us the whole time," said fire Lt. Dan Merson, one of the rescuers who responded to the shooting. "I don't think he even knew what happened to him."
Residents said their neighborhood was rocked by the shooting. A Maryland State Police helicopter landed at nearby Guilford Elementary School, sending vibrations through homes on Hidden Cove and setting off a car alarm.
Seeking an explanation
Residents were struggling yesterday to try to explain the incident.
"If it's a random shooting, that worries me," said a man who did not want to be identified. "If that's the case, it could be me next."
Roger Rome, a schoolmate of Mr. Harvard at Oakland Mills High, said, "It wouldn't have been from anything he did. He was quiet and minded his business. It must have been a mistake."
By late afternoon yesterday, the neighborhood was quiet.
Two small orange sleds and one large pink one still were at the shooting scene.
Blood drops lined the snowy path where Mr. Harvard ran after being shot. The only sounds came from traffic and ice in gutters cracking.
"It looks like a ghost town now," Mrs. Daisley said. "We can't breath easy until [police] find something."