A 15-year-old girl accidentally shot a 19-month-old baby in the neck yesterday after the teen-ager saw a gun lying on Linden Avenue and tried to put it in her pocket, police said.
The teen-ager found the gun in the 2500 block about 5:15 p.m. and picked it up, either to look at it or remove it from the street, police said. But the weapon discharged and struck the baby girl, Chantell Johnson, who was sitting several feet away with other children, city homicide Detective Vernon Holley said.
Chantell, who lives in the block where the shooting occurred, was taken by ambulance to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she underwent surgery last night. Her condition was upgraded from critical to stable at 10:15 p.m.
In the confusion following the shooting, the teen-ager, whose name was not released, said she threw the weapon away. An unidentified man grabbed the gun and ran off through a crowd of onlookers, Detective Holley said.
The gun had not been recovered last night.
Investigators were questioning people in the neighborhood, which is two blocks from Druid Hill Park. No charges were filed.
"I certainly hope they find the gun before it causes problems for someone else," said neighbor Kathryn G. Waters, who has lived with her family in the 2500 block for 15 years.
"We're coming to the season when we have problems in the neighborhood. When it gets warm, we see a lot of people moving through here," Mrs. Waters said. "This time someone apparently dropped a gun."
The shooting occurred in front of the Rochester Court apartment complex, residents said. Children often play on the street in front of it.
Mrs. Waters said the teen-ager had tried to pick up the gun carefully. "She tried to wrap it in her coat, apparently," Mrs. Waters said. "But it went off."
The ambulance taking the injured child to the hospital was given a police escort. Police said the victim and the teen-ager know each other but are not related.