A 2-year-old girl was shot in the face yesterday as she sat on the front steps of her home in an East Baltimore neighborhood torn by drugs and violence.
Kimberly Williams was in critical condition last night after surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The bullet had pierced her cheek and right lip.
Witnesses called police to say the gunman had fled into a nearby house. Two young men were arrested there -- one charged with attempted murder in the shooting, the other with trafficking in cocaine, police said.
Homicide Detective Richard L. James said he could find no reason for the burst of gunfire about 3 p.m. in the 1700 block of N. Port St. It left many neighborhood parents enraged, including Kimberly's father, Albert Williams, who said bitterly, "Right now, black folks don't have any decent place to live -- just drugs, drugs . . . and shooting."
Police said the bullet traveled nearly the length of the block before hitting Kimberly. It was one of at least four shots fired from the intersection of Port and Lanvale streets. Four spent 9mm cartridges were found in the street.
One resident said a single gunman ran through the neighborhood shooting at four or five men when one of the errant bullets struck the young girl. Other residents linked the shooting to the brazen drug dealing in the area.
Charged with the shooting was Enrique Montel Parker, 22, of the 2800 block of Hillsdale Ave., arrested after a police helicopter crew spotted him running from a back door in the 1600 block of N. Montford Ave. The house had been pointed out by witnesses.
Detective James said occupants of the house claimed they did not know Mr. Parker, who was not carrying a gun when he was captured. They allowed police to send a dog inside the house to sniff for the gun -- resulting in the discovery of 83 vials of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $2,000 and drug equipment, authorities said.
But the gun was not found, and remained unaccounted for last night, Detective James said.
A resident of the house, William E. Turnage, 23, was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and related offenses. Police said no relationship between the two suspects had been determined last night.
Agent Carol A. Opher of the Eastern District Drug Enforcement Unit said the shooting occurred in a "high drug area" frequented by users and dealers of cocaine and heroin.
"Usually, if you want to find something [drugs], just walk around there," Agent Opher said. "It's on all the corners."
The police agent said authorities raided a house in the area a couple of months ago after a drug-related shooting and recovered a cache of drugs.