A 28-year-old Northeast Baltimore man shot his girlfriend and her mother yesterday as two toddlers looked on, and then turned a gun on himself.
Police said the gunman, Darren Montgomery, began arguing with his girlfriend about 2 p.m. in the couple's home in the 1600 block of Hartsdale Road in Northwood.
Montgomery then went upstairs, retrieved a handgun and shot his girlfriend, Romelle Goodman, 26, and her mother, Mary Goodman, 72.
Mary Goodman, who had been shot in the left arm, escaped from the home and summoned help, but Romelle Goodman and her two children - a 1-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl - remained in the home.
Romelle Goodman suffered gunshot wounds to the back, but the children were unharmed. She was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she was in serious but stable condition last night. Although the gunman apparently shot himself once in the head, police officers were unsure if he was holding Romelle Goodman and the two children hostage, prompting an hour-long standoff.
"Apparently, it is a domestic-related incident," said Sgt. Scott Rowe, a police spokesman. "Apparently, he did this in front of the children."
George Baker, a Baltimore firefighter, said he was sitting in his house four doors away when he heard seven gunshots, then a pause and four more shots.
He also heard children screaming.
Less than a minute later, Mary Goodman ran to his back door and said her daughter's boyfriend was shooting inside the house.
"She was just excited. She was screaming about her daughter and the two kids still inside the house," Baker said. "She thought her daughter was dead."
Baker administered first aid to the woman and called 911.
Mary Goodman was taken to Union Memorial Hospital and was treated for a gunshot wound to the left arm.
After police officers arrived and assessed the situation, they called in the Quick Response Team, a squad of officers trained in hostage situations and standoffs.
After assembling, more than a half-dozen officers broke through the front door about 3 p.m. - unsure if the gunman was a threat - and located the unharmed children.
"They wanted to enter the house and get the children out," Rowe said, explaining why the team moved in so quickly.
The boy was found in a first-floor playpen, and his sister was hiding in a basement shower, Rowe said.
Police then discovered Romelle Goodman in a first-floor living room. Montgomery was found in a second-floor bedroom and pronounced dead at the scene.
He was holding a handgun in his left hand, and another handgun was found nearby, Rowe said.
It is unclear if he shot himself before police arrived or as the quick-response squad was assembling, Rowe said.
Rowe said Montgomery lived with his girlfriend and her mother in the home, but police are unsure if he is the father of the children.
Police know of no motive for the shooting, but said they do not remember responding to domestic disputes between the couple.
Northwood is a quiet neighborhood of two-story, red-brick row homes, many of which border Chinquapin Run Park.
Maj. Michael P. Tomczack, commander of the Northeast District, said Northwood has little crime. "We never have anything up here," Tomczack said.
Residents of the block, which also includes a home day care center, were forced to remain indoors during the incident but were not evacuated.
"I did not hear any gunfire or anything, but they told us stay inside," said Carolyn Spence, a resident of the block. "My daughter wanted to go pick up her daughter from day care, and they yelled to her, 'Get inside.'"
Neighbors, who did not want to be identified, said the victims moved into the home last summer. Some neighbors described them as "peaceful," but others said there had been several arguments inside the home recently.
Rowe said police would continue to investigate the incident as a double shooting and a suicide.