As Jameka Mosby walked toward her daughter's East Baltimore elementary school around dismissal time Tuesday afternoon, she saw the police helicopter hovering above in tight circles.
"I thought, 'Why's he flying like that right over my child's school?'" she said.
"Then I started to panic."
Mosby would soon learn from other parents that a male victim believed to be in his 20s had been shot in the head less than a block from the front entrance of Cecil Elementary School. The victim, whom police did not identify, was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon.
Officers were called to the 2000 block of Cecil Avenue about 2:25 p.m., just as students were preparing to walk down the block on their way home. Administrators announced a brief lockdown before dismissing students through a rear entrance.
Tiffany Ford, whose 5-year-old daughter Mikel is in pre-kindergarten at the school, said she was shaking as she walked around to the rear of the school to find her daughter.
"I'm just terrified," she said, as she pushed her 1-year-old son Mason in a stroller. "Right near her school. It's like you're not safe anywhere. It's a lot."
Mosby, who said she was the sister of City Councilman Nick Mosby, gathered up her daughter, nine-year-old Jamera, at the rear of the school.
She found it reassuring that no students were injured, but was still shaken.
"I just think it's upsetting and very sad," she said. "The culprit who committed this has to be a very disgusting human being to do that right at the end of school."
Jamera, a fourth-grader, was in the bathroom when the lockdown was announced over the school's speakers. She ran back to her classroom afraid.
"People were crying. People were laying down on the floor," she said. She asked her mother if she could stay home from school on Wednesday, but her mother said no.
Jamera called the attack "tragic."
"We don't want our school getting hurt," she said.
Jameka Mosby said she hopes police increase their presence in the neighborhood, and that the school provides counseling for any kids who were upset by the shooting.
An administrator at the school declined to comment.
Baltimore City Public Schools said administrators placed the school on lockdown briefly in order "to ensure the safety of students and staff."
"When police indicated it was safe to do so, students were dismissed from the rear of the building, away from the crime scene," the system said in a statement. "The well-being of our students and staff is our highest priority. Today's incident was handled according to our safety protocols, and crisis counselors will be on hand at the school tomorrow to support students and staff."
Police said homicide detectives are investigating the shooting. They asked anyone with information to call 410-396-2100 or call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCK-UP.