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Bullet holes peppered the siding on the outside wall of the Wishful Grocery & Deli at Smallwood and Baker streets in West Baltimore, where a 72-year-old woman was shot Wednesday afternoon.
Bullet holes peppered the siding on the outside wall of the Wishful Grocery & Deli at Smallwood and Baker streets in West Baltimore, where a 72-year-old woman was shot Wednesday afternoon. (Colin Campbell)

Yvette Thomas arrived home on North Smallwood Street in West Baltimore around 4 p.m. Wednesday, about the same time as the couple next door.

They chatted briefly on the front porch, she said, grumbling about recent parking tickets they’d received on their block, then went inside.

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Ten minutes later, Thomas’ daughter-in-law hollered to her: The 72-year-old woman she had been speaking with on the porch had been shot outside. The victim’s husband said his wife — whom Thomas affectionately called “Mama” — had returned outside just as a gunfire erupted on the corner, Thomas said.

“She had went back outside to make sure she had locked her car and got caught in the crossfire," Thomas said. “She was an innocent bystander.”

The woman’s name was not released. She was shot in the chest about 4:37 p.m. in the 1600 block of N. Smallwood St. in Easterwood and was alert and conscious when she was taken to a hospital, according to Baltimore Police.

No suspect has been identified, police said. She came home from the hospital Thursday, Thomas said, but her condition was not known.

The broad-daylight shooting terrified Thomas, she said. She barely slept Wednesday night.

Originally from Park Heights in Northwest Baltimore, Thomas had moved less than six months earlier to the Easterwood neighborhood from Upton to get away from the constant violence there, she said.

The street features well-kept rowhouses with tidy yards. The couple next door welcomed her family “with open arms,” she said. Now, Thomas’ daughter wants her to move again.

“I’m ready to pack up and leave,” she said. “I don’t feel safe. ... Where can you move now in Baltimore City and feel safe?"

Bullet holes peppered the siding on the outside wall of the Wishful Grocery & Deli at Smallwood and Baker streets, and the driver’s side mirror of a van parked on the corner was damaged Thursday. A Baltimore police patrol car idled nearby, while groups of young men stood on the corners.

A 34-year-old neighbor who asked not to be named said she was inside during the shootout but heard the “Boom!” “Boom!” “Boom!” of the gunshots.

“It’s crazy,” she said.

Jermaine Matthews heard about the shooting from his mother and wife, who called him simultaneously, just as he received an alert on the Citizen app.

The 24-year-old, who grew up on North Smallwood Street, sped the entire four-hour drive to Baltimore from Pittsburgh, where he had been working on a construction site. He said he wanted to check on the Rev. Candace Willis, his mentor and the 73-year-old pastor at Greater Works Kingdom Ministry. He worried she was the victim.

While relieved to learn Willis wasn’t shot, he said he was disappointed to hear about the shooting at all.

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“It’s a sad situation,” Matthews said. “It’s nonsense.”

Baltimore’s mayor and police have limited ability to stop the murders, said Willis, who raised five children and has lived in the neighborhood for 33 years.

“Can they be in all places all the time?” she said.

The pastor said she regularly approaches drug dealers in the neighborhood, asking them: “Can I pray for you?”

“I pray,” she said. “I just stay in prayer until somebody gives these young people a respectful life.”

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