All they heard were the gunshots, and the first thing that Chanel Lee and her husband Donte Bond tried to do was protect their children.
The family had just returned home from shopping, and Bond hurriedly tried to unlock the front door to his Northeast Baltimore house. Lee stood behind him with their 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
When they finally made it inside yesterday, Bond told Lee, "Check the kids." They took off one of their son's shoes and saw blood - and a bullet hole near his heel.
"He just started crying," Lee, 24, said of her injured son, Donte. "I thought he was crying because we were trying to push him inside."
The bullet was one of several fired from a gun used by a man who police said might have intervened in an argument between two female neighbors.
Last night, police issued a warrant charging Torino Truitt, 31, of the 700 block of Appleton St. with attempted second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, a handgun violation and reckless endangerment.
The dispute began with name-calling and ended with bullets flying through the neighborhood - a seemingly senseless escalation of violence.
"This is exactly what's happening in the city, all over the place," said Deputy Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. "Just mindless, crazy shooting incidents that are occurring right now."
The shooting occurred about noon in the 2200 block of Corona Court in the Dutch Village condominiums just south of East Northern Parkway near McClean Boulevard.
Young children could be seen playing throughout the area yesterday afternoon, as police officers and detectives investigated.
The shooting attracted several top police commanders, including Bealefeld, the department's second-in-command.
Bealefeld said police had been called to the block before the shooting because of a dispute between the women and left because "there was no probable cause to make an arrest."
Less than an hour later, the women began arguing again, and one of them might have called Truitt to help settle the matter, police said. The gunman fired several times, but he didn't hit either woman.
About 50 yards away, one bullet hit young Donte. His mother - who opened the front door to talk to a reporter about two hours after the shooting - stood over a green towel she had used to blot her son's blood.
Visibly shaken, Lee said her husband was with the boy at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"I don't really like the neighborhood," Lee said of her home. "I'm planning on relocating."
Lee said that Donte was kept overnight last night for observation at the hospital.
More than 50 people younger than 18 have been wounded by gunfire this year and survived, city police statistics show. Thirteen juveniles have been killed.
Bealefeld said the shooting was the latest example of people using guns to end arguments.
"These are minor disputes that are being resolved by armed individuals," Bealefeld said.
"The ability of the Police Department to mediate every slight, every insult, every bad name ... is beyond any police department's capabilities," he said.
Others in the neighborhood who were outside or inside when they heard the shooting crouched for cover.
Two men who were doing renovations to Keisha Thomas's townhouse were working in the front of the building when the shooting began. Thomas said they ran into her house for safety.
Thomas, 26, said she locked her back patio door and stayed in her living room, away from the front of the house.
Near the scene of the boy's wounding, a parked silver Cadillac had a bullet hole in its left side, by the trunk. Police impounded the car for evidence.
Sun reporter Richard Irwin contributed to this article