Nathaniel Quick and Devin Dixon were friends at Mayfield Middle School in Elkridge, but lost touch in high school. After Quick was shot at a Halloween party in Columbia over the weekend, Dixon visited his former friend's grandmother, who said the shooting left the young man paralyzed.
Dixon broke down in tears.
A few hours after the visit, Dixon was arrested by Howard County police and charged with the attempted murder of his former friend, and the murder of a 19-year-old Silver Spring man.
According to police, Dixon fired randomly at the million-dollar house near a golf course after leaving a raucous party around 1 a.m. with another man. Aaron Brice died in the driveway. The bullet that struck Quick, 22, came through a basement window, police said.
Dixon, 22, and his roommate, Dean Schroyer, 21, were identified by witnesses at the party attended by well over 100 people in the rented home.
After obtaining a search warrant, police found the two men early Monday at the home they shared in the 8000 block of Paul Martin Drive in Elkridge, along with a Glock handgun that police are trying to match to the 21 bullet shell casings collected as evidence from the $1.6 million mansion in the 11500 block of Manorstone Lane.
Police have charged Dixon with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree attempted murder, first- and second-degree assault and manslaughter. Schroyer, who police said drove Dixon from the murder scene, was charged with accessory after the fact and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Police found about three pounds of marijuana at the Elkridge residence they shared.
Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said Monday that the shootings were random, and that despite hearing about "a number of altercations" at the party, police do not believe there had been contact between Dixon and his victims.
"Right now our belief is that neither of the victims were intended targets," McMahon said. "They fired a number of rounds. Clearly I think their intent was to hit somebody and they did."
The home is owned by Dennis Edwards and Joanne Powell. Reached by a reporter on Monday, Edwards said he was a co-signer of a loan on the property and was unaware of the party or the shooting, which he called "horrible." He said he thought the bank had taken back the house through a foreclosure proceeding, but court records indicate the case was dropped in August.
Quick's mother, Carol Howard, said that doctors at University of Maryland Shock Trauma told her that either a fragment from a bullet or Quick's shattered spine is lodged "a hair away" from his aorta. Carol Howard said that her son is in critical condition. If he survives, Howard said, he will be paralyzed "from just below the belly button down."
Howard said that her son, a 2006 graduate of Howard High School, was expected to graduate from Bowie State University in May with a business degree, and hoped to go to graduate school.
"He never hurt anyone, he was a mild-mannered kid," Howard said. "He was a homebody."
After Dixon visited Quick's family on Sunday, "my mother said that he broke down, and she was thinking he was distraught because they used to be friends," Carol Howard recalled on Monday. Dixon's "body just buckled" after being told of the paralysis, Howard said.
The news that Dixon was the alleged shooter was still difficult for Howard to comprehend."He lived down the street, my mother always fed him, I [baby-] sat him," she said. "Nathaniel didn't even know [Dixon] was at the party."