The booming noise of Inner Harbor fireworks two miles away masked the sound of gunshots in an East Baltimore neighborhood, where seemingly random gunfire killed one man and grazed another as they watched the Fourth of July spectacle from the rooftop of a friend's home.
"We were all saying how safe it was being up there instead of being at street level," said Theodore Grillo, host of the party in the 2000 block of E. Baltimore St.
Six people were on the roof watching fireworks when the victim, 50-year-old Alfred C. McQuade, "just fell down on the floor and said, 'I've been shot,' " Mr. Grillo said.
Two 15-year-olds were charged yesterday as adults with first-degree murder in the death of Mr. McQuade, of the 400 block of Cornwall St., who was shot in the back; and attempted murder of Russell B. Durbin Jr., 44, of the 7000 block of E. Baltimore St., who was grazed on the arm by a bullet in the 9:50 p.m. incident, police said.
The suspects were identified as Joseph Allan Lowry of the 2000 block of E. Baltimore St. and Ronald Lee Winder Jr. of the 2200 block of N. Calvert St.
Homicide Detective Earl R. Kratsch said that the teen-agers were arrested yesterday and that the police seized the apparent murder weapon -- a .22-caliber rifle that belonged to the Lowry youth.
The detective said the case would be reviewed by the city state's attorney's office today.
Mr. McQuade was removed from the rooftop by firefighters using a ladder truck and taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, Detective Kratsch said. Mr. Durbin was treated at the scene.
The victim was a pipefitter for the Bethlehem Steel Corp., where he had worked for 30 years, said his estranged wife, Stephanie McQuade. She said he spent much of his spare time and vacation volunteering at a children's camp.
"Even though were were separated, he was my best buddy," Mrs. McQuade said, her voice breaking. "Whenever you needed something -- friends or family -- all you had to do was call him, and he was there like a shot."
Patricia L. Gaydos, who also was on the roof, said she didn't believe the boys had been aiming at anyone. She said it appeared that teen-agers were senselessly taking target practice, shooting liquor bottles off a nearby wall.
She walked 30 feet behind the wall to the spot from which the boys allegedly fired the shots. She pointed out that the rooftop was directly in the line of fire, although its view is obstructed by trees.
"They were not intending to hurt anyone at our party," she said.
John Trent, the Lowry youth's stepfather, said he had been aware that his stepson had obtained a rifle. He said the boy did not keep the weapon in his house.
"He didn't mean to do it; he was just shooting bottles and some of the bullets got away," Mr. Trent said.
In another weekend homicide, Derone Anderson, 20, of the 3600 block of Woodland Ave. was shot in the head about 2:40 a.m. yesterday in the 5800 block of Bland Ave., homicide detectives said.
Brian Stokeling, 34, of the 2600 block of Manhattan Ave., was charged with first-degree murder and handgun violations in the shooting, which witnesses said occurred during an argument.
Detectives said that they did not know what the men were arguing about and that their investigation was continuing.