Terrell Windman was dozing off on the couch Wednesday evening when she awoke suddenly to the sound of nearby gunshots and instinctively hit the floor.
Then she heard someone screaming and ran outside. There, diagonally across the street from her Carrollton Ridge rowhouse, a horrific scene was unfolding, Windman recalled in an interview.
Her beloved neighbor — the godfather of her young daughter — lay bleeding out on the sidewalk.
Charles Rheubottom, 41, was later pronounced dead on the scene. Baltimore police said officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert for gunfire in the area and found Rheubottom in the 400 block of S. Smallwood Street around 8:15 p.m.
His death is one of the latest Baltimore homicides amid a prolonged surge in gun violence that shows no sign of slowing. The violence remains concentrated in neighborhoods defined by decades of rising poverty and disinvestment — including Carrollton Ridge, where frequent gunfire has injured at least a half-dozen people since Jan. 1, including two victims who died.
While waiting for police and medics to arrive Wednesday night, Windman and others worked desperately to save their friend, simultaneously performing CPR and tracking his pulse.
“He tried to tell me something, but it was too late,” Windman said. “He couldn’t get it out.”
She hopes her presence was comforting to Rheubottom during his final moments. But she said watching detectives step over his lifeless body — placing evidence markers and taking crime scene photographs — was difficult, even though she appreciates their work.
Rheubottom died just feet away from the stoop where he spent most evenings, often dancing to old school R&B, neighbors said. They described him as a fixture in the neighborhood, well known and respected.
“He would be dancing over there right now, dancing his little heart out,” said Kenneth Bolton, a longtime friend. “There’s too much hate going on around us.”
A father and grandfather himself, Rheubottom would keep the sidewalks clear of debris and look after the neighborhood children, sometimes offering them a couple of dollars to buy snacks from the corner store.
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Two days after the shooting, a memorial display had taken shape outside his home: a red stuffed teddy bear, bunches of white flowers and candles, a wooden cross, a collection of empty Jameson whiskey bottles and dozens of star-shaped balloons.
When reached at their home Friday morning, his family declined to comment, saying the news of his death was too recent and too overwhelming.
His neighbors said this latest instance of violence left them even more worried about their own safety. They called for a larger police presence, and even suggested bringing in National Guard troops to help quell the violence.
“You can’t even walk around here anymore,” said Donna Taylor, a longtime Carrollton Ridge resident. “As they say, bullets have no name.”
She recalled several decades ago when the brick rowhouses were well maintained and tidy, filled with families and retirees. Now, entire blocks are blighted, leaving neighbors worried the vacant buildings will burn down.
Taylor said she used to sit on her stoop well into the evening, talking and socializing. But now she goes inside before dark.
“It’s never been like this,” she said. “We need help, but we’re not getting it.”