DeForest Williams, who came close yesterday to being the latest Baltimore murder statistic, was feeling like a very lucky man.
Mr. Williams was wounded by bullet fragments when a shot rippedthrough the window of his car shortly before 3 p.m. as he drove with his girlfriend in the 1700 block of East Fayette Street. Police said he had driven unsuspectingly into the middle of a fight between two groups of youths.
But the result could have been much worse.
"I'm living, so I'm blessed," said Mr. Williams, a 23-year-old junior at Morgan State University.
After he realized he had been shot, Mr. Williams walked to the emergency room of Church Hospital, about two blocks away. Interviewed after he was treated and released, he wore white shorts and tennis shoes that were still spattered with blood, and he held a cloth and an ice pack to his head. But three hours after the shooting, he was going home. He was in good humor, laughing and cracking jokes. How did he feel?
"I don't know. Once I eat, I'll be able to tell. I'm hungry!" he said.
Mr. Williams said he had finished classes early at Morgan State, where he is an electrical engineering major, and decided to give his girlfriend, Sheronda Stuckey, 21, a ride to work.
He picked her up at her Northeast Baltimore home and was driving on Fayette Street toward the Inner Harbor, where Ms. Stuckey works at aHarborplace hat store.
That was when a dispute between two groups of youths that had begun at a fast food stand around the corner erupted into gunfire. As Mr. Williams drove by, one of the groups emerged from the projects in the 1700 block of East Fayette Street and someone fired at least two shots at the group on the other side of the street, Detective Gary Dunnigan said.
One of the bullets shattered the passenger window of Mr. Williams' 1987 Ford Escort, and he was hit by three fragments -- one in the cheek and two in his scalp. Ms. Stuckey was unharmed.
Mr. Williams said he did not realize that bullets had been fired or that parts of one had struck him. "I thought a kid had thrown a football at the window," he said. "But a lady told me I was shot."
That woman was an employee of Church Hospital who happened to be walking to work along Fayette Street, heard the gunshots and saw that Mr. Williams' head was bleeding. She walked with him and his girlfriend to the hospital.
There, emergency room doctors removed the fragment from his cheek and stitched the wounds in his scalp, giving him the option to have the bullet fragments removed later.
Detective Dunnigan said that two males, one 17 and the other 21, had been taken into custody for questioning. But there was insufficient evidence to charge either at this point and both were released.