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Bystanders injured as gunmen open fire in West Baltimore store

A trip to a corner store Sunday evening for a 47-year-old man and 11- and 12-year-old girls put the trio in the middle of gunfire as three other men repeatedly shot at another person in the store.

The man was shot in the back, and the two girls were grazed by bullets in the Four Seasons carryout store at the corner of West North Avenue and Druid Hill Avenue, police said.

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The shooting "appeared to be retaliatory" for an attack an hour earlier a few blocks away on Bloom Avenue, in which a woman — another bystander — was shot, said Col. Stanley Brandford, chief of detectives.

"None of these victims that were shot were the intended targets," Brandford said. The girls, he said, "were two kids going to the store to buy items. It sickens all of us."

Not long after the shooting at the store, officers found a teenager suffering from a gunshot wound in a home on McCulloh Street. After scouring video of the shooting, Brandford said, detectives determined that the man was one of the three gunmen.

Jahi Rashad Hamilton, 18, was treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center and arrested. He faces charges including the attempted murder of the three bystanders, Brandford said.

Detectives are searching for the two other shooters. Police said they don't know who the shooters were targeting in the store.

Hamilton was charged in March with carjacking, assault, weapons, theft and reckless endangerment, online court records show. The outcome of the charges was unclear.

Shally Lin, the cashier at the Four Seasons carryout store, said her 2-year-old daughter and niece were playing behind the counter, as they do every night, when the gunshots rang out.

The victims were among a handful of people waiting for their food inside the store at the time, she said. Lin's daughter and niece were startled but not hurt.

They "don't know what happened," Lin said.

Lin, who has worked at the store for two years, said the shooting made her fearful for the girls' safety — "of course" — but she brought them back to work with her Monday. They sat on the floor and watched cartoons behind the counter and the thick glass window as she rang up a pack of candy for a customer.

"The police say, 'We are here,' and we'll be fine," Lin said.

Brandford said the recent string of brazen shootings in the city "cannot be explained."

"We're appalled by it," he said. "There is no good reason why this should happen on any streets here in Baltimore City."

He said officers are working hard to make the city safe but need help from witnesses to solve cases.

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T.J. Smith, the Police Department's chief spokesman, described the three gunmen as "callous bad guys" who shot one of their accomplices. He stressed the incident wasn't a gun battle between dueling groups of shooters.

Meanwhile, the city reached 341 homicides in 2015 — its deadliest year in killings per capita — with two more shootings Monday.

A 22-year-old man was shot and killed execution-style in the street in West Baltimore on Monday afternoon, police said.

Brandford joined homicide detectives in surveying the scene in the 1900 block of Baker St. More than 30 evidence markers littered the street. Officers were called to the shooting about 4:25 p.m., police said.

Police have surveillance video of the shooting, Brandford said, that shows that the killer "stood over him and finished him off."

"He shot him every way possible," he said.

Another homicide happened early Monday in East Baltimore.

The victim was found with a gunshot wound to his head around 1:20 a.m. in the 1000 block of Greenmount Ave., in Johnston Square. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Neither victim was identified.

The most people killed in a year was in 1993, when there were 353 killings, but also about 100,000 more residents. Baltimore reached its record for killings per capita in November.

Police asked anyone with information to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.

Baltimore Sun reporter Carrie Wells contributed to this article.

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