A 10-year-old boy and two teenage girls were wounded yesterday in a brazen lunchtime shooting in East Baltimore. Police were investigating the attack as possibly having been aimed at a 20-year- old man amid a dispute over a jacket.
Two men jumped out of a green sport utility vehicle and shot the man playing dice with others on the sidewalk about 12:30 p.m. Bullets also hit the boy and two 15-year- old girls as they stood on a sidewalk in the 1700 block of N. Bradford St., near the old American Brewery building.
The children's wounds were not considered life-threatening, police said. The victims' names were not immediately released.
Two law enforcement officials familiar with the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is in its early stages, said they are exploring whether the shooting might have been prompted by a dispute over a jacket.
Police believe the wounded man is the cousin of a witness to a double murder in the same block in October 2005 but were hesitant to immediately connect yesterday's shooting to that case. The man charged in the double murder is scheduled for trial today in Baltimore Circuit Court.
The four victims in yesterday's shooting were taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where the man was listed in serious condition, said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman. He is expected to survive.
Residents were upset by the bold nature of the shooting and that three of the victims were young, innocent bystanders. The area around the vacant brewery was the subject of "A Neighborhood Abandoned," a two-part series last year in The Sun.
"Stuff like this happens all the time," said Leslie Funderburk of the 1600 block of N. Bradford. "The thing about this case today is that it was done in broad daylight.
"This is very sad," said Funderburk, who has two small children and was at work when the shooting occurred. "It's going to happen again."
Marcia Cooper, who lives on Federal Street with her two preteen daughters and two teenage foster children, said: "That's not the first child that got shot around here. It's dangerous, it's dangerous."
The city has seen a sharp rise in shootings during the past year - a trend that police attribute to many factors, from turf wars between drug dealers and gangs, to personal vendettas being settled with illegal guns that are easy to buy.
Through March 31, nonfatal shootings had spiked 32 percent over the same period last year, with the number of victims up from 122 to 161, police statistics show. As of yesterday afternoon, 75 people had died in Baltimore homicides - the same number as this time last year.
Statistics released Wednesday showed that nonfatal shootings had increased 79 percent in the Eastern District compared with last year.
In the long-troubled Eastern District, where yesterday's shooting occurred, the Police Department recently bolstered its efforts with an infusion of 50 more officers scheduled to work in two shifts, from noon to 2 a.m.
The block in which yesterday's shooting occurred has a history of violence, though the neighborhood is home to many young children who play in the streets.
On Oct. 18, 2005, Stanley Dorsey, 31, and William "Loose Kanon" Kirkpatrick, 16, were gunned down in the early evening. Allen Little, a 28-year-old with a history of drug and gun convictions, was arrested in their deaths and charged in December 2005.
Since his indictment in January 2006, electronic court records show that his murder case has been postponed four times - the kind of delay that remains common in city murder cases. Little's trial was scheduled to begin today.
Hours after yesterday's shooting, police officers in marked and unmarked vehicles could be seen patrolling the district, pulling cars over for traffic infractions and interviewing people on the street.
At the scene on North Bradford, in the city's Broadway-East neighborhood, yellow police tape remained at both ends of the block throughout the afternoon while crime lab technicians took photographs and placed evidence markers on the sidewalk and street. The technicians documented 20 pieces of ballistic evidence, including shells and fragments, as well as a hat and a bloody T-shirt.
Quentin Dennis said two of the victims - the 20-year-old, whose name he gave as Jonathan, and the 10-year-old, who he said was called Mikey - were nephews of his sister, Yvette Smith, who lives on the block.
Dennis, who arrived after the shooting, said Smith told him, "Guys came around the corner and started shooting."
Smith said from behind the police tape that she couldn't talk because she was checking on the condition of her relatives.
Nikki Bowens, 21, who lives in the middle of the block with her mother and 3-year-old son, said she and her son were taking a nap when she was awakened by gunfire.
"I heard the last of the gunshots and people screaming," said Bowens, who has lived on the block for a year. She said she peered through her window to see what was happening.
"Little Mikey was crying, and people were running up and down the street," she said.
Bowens said she and her son "come outside all the time."
"If he wasn't sleeping, we would have been outside," she said. "That's the part that scares me the most."
A woman who has lived at a corner house at one end of the block since November said her daughter was outside at the time of the shootings and was not hurt, but was taken downtown by detectives for questioning.
"How would you feel if your child was involved in something like this?" she asked, declining to give her name.
She nodded in the direction of a police camera with a blinking blue light at the other end of the block, which had been put up just after the 2005 double homicide.
"All this shooting and you mean they can't find anyone from this camera?" she asked.
Matt Jablow, a police spokesman, said he did not know whether detectives had been able to retrieve any useful footage from the surveillance camera.