In an attack police believe was drug-related, a 24-year-old woman was shot to death and three other people -- including the slain woman's 4-year-old son -- were critically wounded last night when several men invaded two homes in southeast Baltimore, police said.
The dead woman is Tonya Cannady, of the 1200 block of Tennant Way. She was pronounced dead at the scene from a head wound.
Her son, Troy Dixon, a pre-kindergarten student at Graceland Park-O'Donnell Heights Elementary School, was in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital with gunshot wounds in the head and left leg.
Lelia Crawford, 24, of the 1700 block of Dundalk Ave., was in serious and stable condition at Hopkins with wounds of the head, neck, jaw and both arms.
Annette Smith, 30, of the 1300 block of Urban Way, was in critical condition at the Francis Scott Key Medical Center with bullet wounds of the head and left leg. She was also stabbed in the neck and chest.
A fifth victim, Michael Emmit, 34, of the 2300 block of E. Preston St., was beaten and stabbed in the attack but did not require hospitalization.
Sgt. Jay Landsman of the homicide squad said the shootings and stabbings are drug-related and possible suspects in the attacks may have been identified.
"We think we know who did this," Sergeant Landsman said, adding that police are looking for four men of Jamaican background.
Sergeant Landsman said the houses were in the 1200 block of Tennant Way and the nearby 1200 block of Urban Way in the O'Donnell Heights section.
Shortly after 11:30 p.m., police responded to reports that occupants of the houses had been shot and stabbed by several men who burst in with knives and handguns.
When police entered the house on Tennant Way, they found the nude body of Ms. Cannady on the floor of her second-floor front bathroom.
In another room, police found her son bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head. Ms. Crawford was also found in the house on Tennant Way.
Inside the house on Urban Way, police found Ms. Smith and Mr. Emmit. He was later taken to police headquarters and interviewed.
Sergeant Landsman said each house had so much blood on the floors in several rooms that it was possible others may have been shot or stabbed by the attackers but fled before police arrived.
It also appeared more than one handgun was used, said Sergeant Landsman. He also said it appeared different people entered each house within minutes of each other.
A woman who lives next to the Tennant Way house said she was watching television around 11:30 p.m. when she heard the sound of the front door next door opening and then being shut. A few minutes later, she heard the same door open and shut, as though someone had entered the house for a few minutes before leaving.
She said she never saw anyone leaving the house and never heard gunshots.
"Nearly every night around here," she said, "you can hear gunshots, but I'm really surprised that I didn't hear any noise coming from the house next door."
Outside the scene of the shootings today, other neighbors shook their heads in disgust that a child was victimized.
"This was a time that a kid was a victim of circumstance," said one man, who declined to give his name.
Syd Ford, a social worker at Troy's school, said she had spoken to the injured child's classmates today. Most of them knew what had happened, but she said she wanted to make sure they had the facts straight and that they were re-assured as best as possible.
"They asked if they prayed for him it would help," Ms. Ford said.
She said other school employees trained in crisis management were talking to any students who wanted to discuss the shootings.
Other O'Donnell Heights residents stood outside their homes and spoke of constant drug activity and shootings. No one seemed to know the victims, except to say they had seen Troy playing outside or his mother coming and going.
"I know everything but I don't know nothing," said one man.
"This has gotten bad here," said a woman who lives across from the Tennant Way house. "You should see them passing drugs seven days a week," she said.
The neighbors stood along Toone Street, which they have nicknamed "The Strip" because of the daily drug activity along it.
"I don't let my daughter out," a 26-year-old woman said. "She stays in the house and plays by herself."