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Two Baltimore men wounded by gunfire in Harper's Choice


Two Baltimore men were hospitalized after being shot Wednesday night at the Waverly Winds Apartments in Columbia, Howard County police said yesterday.

Officers were called to investigate a disturbance and arrived on foot patrol in Harper's Choice village about 10 p.m. Officers heard several gunshots near the apartment complex, where they found the two men, Damany Michael Hughes, 24, and Walter Scott Cook, 20, wounded on a parking lot.

Police said Cook had been shot in the head and was taken to Howard County General Hospital. He was transferred to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. A spokeswoman said Cook was listed in critical condition yesterday.

Hughes was treated for a wound from a bullet that had grazed his head and was released from the trauma center, police said.

Police said details were not clear yesterday but that the two men were not shooting at each other. Authorities are looking for one or more people who they believe fled after the shootings.

"We don't believe it was a drive-by shooting," said Sherry Llewellyn, police spokeswoman. "We know they were standing in a parking lot when it happened."

Llewellyn said police were interviewing Hughes.

Dennis Jones, Waverly Winds superintendent, said he didn't hear about the shooting until yesterday but that he was told both men were shot near the entrance to the parking lot.

A resident named John, who asked that his last name not be used, said he has lived at Waverly Winds for 30 years and that he is not surprised anymore by crime in what was once a peaceful neighborhood.

"I remember a time when we could lay out here on the grass all night long in the summertime, and nobody would bother you," he said yesterday. "Not now. As soon as it gets dark, you better get inside and close the door. You don't dare sit out there now."

John said he was sitting at his kitchen table when he heard several gunshots outside his door.

"All I can do is call the police," he said.

"I didn't go outside. I didn't even look at the guy who was lying on the ground. We've got quite a few people coming in here, dealing drugs. You just try and stay away from it."

Harper's Choice is one of Howard County's HotSpots, meaning it has been designated by the state as a high-crime area and receives extra funding for law enforcement and community programs.

Waverly Winds Apartments has experienced trouble before. Last year, Valentino M. Jackson, 32, of Columbia was sentenced to 18 years in prison for first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment after he pointed a loaded shotgun at a man on the Waverly Winds parking lot.

The apartments are near a Columbia Association swimming pool and playground, and are across the street from Swansfield Elementary School.

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