A man shot a 9-year old boy after forcing his way into a Cherry Hill home and demanding money, police said Wednesday. The boy was the second juvenile hit by gunfire in Baltimore in less than a week.
The boy, who was shot in the stomach, was in "good" condition at an area hospital, police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyk said. Police used city surveillance cameras to capture a suspect and recover the handgun they say he used in the crime.
Kowalczyk said the shooting occurred just before midnight Tuesday in the 1000 block of Bethune Road in Cherry Hill, a dead-end street lined with rectangular brick public housing. Neighbors expressed fear and disgust at another child being wounded near the site where 1-year-old Carter Scott was shot and killed this spring.
"When I heard a little kid got shot — no matter what's happening on the streets or if it's a beef between families or me and you, a kid has nothing to do with it," neighbor Robert Smith said.
Police charged Kenneth Ray Graham, 37, with attempted first-degree murder, handgun and assault counts in the incident.
Court records show Graham has been convicted of conspiracy and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. He is scheduled to be tried in December on a theft charge. Public defender Denis O'Connell, who is representing him in that case, could not be reached for comment.
Graham's last known address was the 2100 block of Slater Road. Relatives could not be located.
The incident followed a shooting Sept. 12 that wounded a 15-year-old boy in the 2600 block of E. Monument St.
The 9-year-old was the 29th juvenile shot or killed in Baltimore this year, according to police statistics.
Baltimore police Col. Darryl DeSousa, commander of the patrol division, said he was concerned about the shooting of another child but said it did not appear that the boy was the gunman's "primary target."
"This is a 9-year-old child, a 9-year-old child who was safe and sound," he said. "It's unacceptable for this even to happen. This guy's a coward."
According to DeSousa, Graham knocked on the door of home where the boy lived, demanded money and attempted to enter. Occupants attempted to block him, police said, but Graham forced his way in, fired a handgun and fled into a nearby wooded area.
Officers in the Southern District police station used an overhead police surveillance camera near the apartment to zoom in on where residents had reported gunshots, DeSousa said. They saw Graham flee onto the dirt path just behind the apartment complex, police said.
Officers arrested Graham nearby and said they found a handgun in the woods.
Police plan to expand the use and capabilities of city surveillance cameras in the neighborhood, Baltimore Housing said in a flier received by residents on Wednesday.
Baltimore Housing said police plan to test a new gunshot detection system in concert with its surveillance cameras at 15 Cherry Hill locations. The new system "will allow authorities to quickly detect and videotape gunshot activity in the area and thus provide for higher safety in the neighborhood," the agency said.
Testing was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Residents were told to expect increased police activity and "occasional gunshots" in the area.
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Neighbors of the 9-year-old said they heard yelling and three gunshots. They said the boy's mother screamed out that she was being robbed.
Neighbors said the victim was a good boy who rode his bike around the neighborhood and often ran errands for his mother.
Many said they have grown weary of neighborhood violence. Another shooting took place Monday, about a half-mile away at Cherry Hill Road and Veronica Avenue, where police said a man was shot in the chest.
"I don't understand why they shot him," apartment complex tenant Nikki Blandon said of the 9-year-old. Blandon, who said she is trying to move away from the area, added, "I could survive in the city, but my daughter is pregnant and there's too much killing around here."
Baltimore Sun staff writer Nayana Davis and Justin Fenton contributed to this report.