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Crime

83-year-old woman recounts getting shot by stray bullet as Baltimore gun violence surges: ‘It’s just shocking’

Marjorie Tyson had just gotten into bed and opened a book when suddenly, out of nowhere, her right arm was in excruciating pain, bleeding profusely. She started screaming for help, thinking some kind of vicious snake or maybe a spider had crept inside and bitten her.

Then she noticed a small gold bullet lying on the carpet and a hole in the window facing her bed. She slowly realized what had just happened — a near-death experience at age 83, Baltimore gun violence crashing into her peaceful home.

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Later on, the beloved great-great-grandmother would recount this experience in detail, filled with charisma, indignation and even humor. But in the moments immediately after the shooting, she watched police cars swarming her block, held onto her sons for support and wondered if this was the end.

Baltimore Police responded to reports of a shooting just before 2 a.m. Friday in the 4400 block of Wakefield Road, a quiet residential street in Northwest Baltimore lined with single-family homes and well-maintained lawns. Officials said the investigation is ongoing.

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After several hours in the hospital, Marjorie Tyson returned Friday evening to the place she’s called home for decades, a tidy brick house whose walls are lined with family photographs and mementos chronicling a lifetime of memories with her late husband of 62 years and their six children.

Her right arm was bandaged in two places: where the bullet entered near her wrist and exited a few inches down her forearm.

During an interview Saturday evening, she said it was sore but manageable. She said the doctor let her decide whether to get stitches, and she chose to wait and see how it heals without them.

She pointed out a small jagged hole in her bedroom window and shards of glass on the windowsill.

“I’m not at ease,” she said, peering out the window and envisioning how the stray bullet must have traveled through her front yard. It likely struck the window frame first, which could have saved her life.

“I don’t understand why somebody would do that,” she added. “It’s not like I have enemies.”

Her two sons, who were also home when shooting occurred, said they heard no gunshots — only the popping sound of the bullet striking the window. They said police found other shell casings in a secluded vacant lot diagonally across the street where a tree line separates it from the surrounding properties.

Neighbors said the street is generally safe, with a suburban feel and plenty of greenspace. Aside from an apartment complex on the next block, most of the residents are homeowners. The neighborhood backs up to Gwynns Falls north of Leakin Park.

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“It’s just shocking that someone was just out there shooting,” said Price Tyson, who was puttering around in the yard Saturday evening. “This is such a quiet street.”

After discovering the bullet and calling 911, the brothers held towels around their mother’s arm to slow the bleeding and waited for police and medics to arrive. Then, they all went to the hospital, where a host of other relatives joined them.

In the hours that followed, Marjorie Tyson said she received an outpouring of concern from loved ones, including some she hadn’t heard from in years.

One of her great-granddaughters drove up from a military base in Georgia immediately upon hearing the news. They spent hours catching up on Saturday, Marjorie Tyson said.

Her dining room was filled with flower arrangements and a constant stream of visitors.

She said it was strange but not unpleasant to be celebrated like this.

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“Everything has a reason, but only God can say why,” said her son Gregory Tyson. “Just be thankful for the time we have.”

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Two days before Marjorie Tyson was shot, the family watched in horror as news broke about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

“Those children — that hurt my heart,” Marjorie Tyson said, thinking about her own great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren growing up in a world where active shooter drills are becoming a routine part of elementary school. “I could feel the pain of those mothers and fathers.”

She also had a grandson who was shot to death in Baltimore several years ago.

In recent weeks, the city has experienced a rash of shootings that officials have decried as even more brazen and devastating than usual, including a pregnant woman and her fiancé killed outside their home and a high school junior shot to death after his prom.

Earlier this month, a group of City Council members called the violence beyond comprehension and demanded that the Baltimore Police Department and Mayor Brandon Scott produce a short-term plan to curb violent crime.

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On Saturday evening, two teenagers were shot outside Harborplace downtown after someone opened fire into a crowd following a confrontation near the Inner Harbor, according to police. One of the victims later died at the hospital, and the shooter fled the scene. The shooting unfolded around dinnertime, when throngs of people were strolling along the waterfront promenade and about 20 Baltimore police officers were stationed nearby, a larger police presence than usual because officials anticipated more activity downtown over Memorial Day Weekend.

The epidemic of gun violence is becoming unbearable, Gregory Tyson said: “I pray they do something about it.”


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