Quincy Lewis and his older brother, Harold Queen, were playing football with some friends in the front yard of a Northeast Baltimore apartment complex Monday night when they saw a sedan driving slowly down the street.
Suddenly, Harold said, bullets blazed out of the car's passenger window.
The boys ran and dove, but not before a bullet struck 11-year-old Quincy in the back -- leaving family members and police wondering how the boy became the latest child caught in the city's violence.
He was in good condition yesterday at a city hospital.
"It's just sad," said Quincy's aunt, Brendalyn Brown. "Why shoot into a crowd of kids?"
Police said the boys did not appear to be the intended targets of the shooting, which occurred about 8:30 p.m. in the 1800 block of Ramblewood Road.
Detectives were scouring the city for the gunman's sedan -- a dark-blue Lincoln Town Car with a dark-blue rag top and alloy rims on its wheels. Last night, they were also questioning and hunting for witnesses.
"There were a lot of people out" when the shooting occurred, said Detective Sean Messner, who is leading the investigation. "This is a tragedy."
Messner declined to say who the targets of the gunfire might have been. He said police were investigating claims by witnesses that several people -- suspected drug dealers -- scattered as the Lincoln Town Car drove into the 1800 block of Ramblewood Road.
After Quincy fell wounded, his brother and friends scooped him up and carried him to the street to seek help, police said.
A neighborhood woman driving past the group stopped, picked up Quincy and drove him to Good Samaritan Hospital, about five blocks away, police said.
Doctors stabilized Quincy before transferring him to Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
Family members say Quincy has been calm and brave throughout his ordeal.
"He said, 'Don't worry, Mama, I'm going to be fine,'" when he was at the hospital, according to his grandmother, Annie Brown, 69. "He said he was going to be all right."
The grandmother credited Harold, 15, with helping to save his brother's life by quickly finding help.
"I'm so proud of him," she said. "He didn't panic."
The shooting was just the latest obstacle for Quincy to overcome, family members said.
Born to a drug-addicted mother, Quincy has battled seizures and learning disabilities since birth, family members said.
But the boy has not let the medical problems slow him down.
Living with his grandmother and Harold in the 1900 block of E. Belvedere Ave., he is known for his quick wit, sense of humor and love of sports and video games, relatives said.
He also has a serious side -- Quincy often carries shoppers' bags for spare change to their cars at a nearby supermarket and sings in his church choir.
He enjoys automobiles and dreams of owning a dealership that specializes in sports cars.
In fact, Quincy called on his knowledge of cars to provide clues to police about the Town Car involved in the shooting, family members said.
"That boy has been fighting all his life," Annie Brown said. "He doesn't give up. He's strong."
In June, a 2-year-old child, Lourdes Robinson, was struck by a get-away car fleeing a shooting.
She has a severe brain injury and recovering at a North Baltimore hospital.
Last year, Tevin Montrel Davis, then 10, was shot in the neck in a shooting that brought widespread outrage from residents and city leaders.
In 2001, a 2-year-old boy was wounded by a bullet as he stepped outside his East Baltimore rowhouse to retrieve a toy.
Six years ago, James Smith III, 3, was killed by a stray bullet as he sat on his mother's lap in a barbershop.
"The children are suffering," said Annie Brown, the grandmother.
"They are the ones suffering. It's terrible when kids can't play. They were just trying to play an honest game," she said.
Police urge anyone with information about Quincy's shooting to call Metro Crime Stoppers, which offers rewards up to $2,000 for information leading to the indictment of a suspect, at 410-276-8888 or Messner at 410-396-2449.