Adrian Edmonds, a young mother and girl "who never messed with anybody," was fatally shot and her toddler son was wounded late last night in a spray of bullets from a West Baltimore gunfight.
City police said a bullet went through the 15-year-old's right arm and into her chest in front of the home of a friend she was visiting in the 500 block of Presstman St.
Relatives and friends of the slain girl gathered near her Division Street home today, as a radio report in the background recounted the city's latest killing of an innocent teen-ager.
"Around here, every day is judgment day," one man said.
"Adrian, she never messed with anybody," said her uncle, Eddie Blick, 44. "She took care of her son," he said.
Jesse Edmonds said his daughter "liked to dance and have fun."
Asked about the fate of his grandson, he said: "Right now, I don't know what's going to happen. He might go with her aunt."
Ms. Edmonds' son, identified by police as Eric Tyler, 15 months old, was wounded in the right arm. He was in stable condition today at University of Maryland Medical Center.
Asked what could be done about the seemingly constant shootings of children and teen-agers in the city, Mr. Edmonds shook his head.
"There's only so much you can do," he said.
Mr. Blick said the idea of imposing martial law, broached this weekend by the city NAACP chapter as a potential way of addressing the problem, was too restrictive.
"It infringes on a lot of people's rights," he said.
Almost in the same breath, Mr. Blick said, "We're definitely in a war zone." Youngsters involved in the drug trade "don't care whether they shoot their mother, their brother, their friends."
Although relatives said the shooting resulted from a drug feud, homicide Detective Gene Constantine said the shootout may have been the result of a feud between two groups over another girl in the area.
Ms. Edmonds managed to get inside the Presstman Street house before she collapsed in a hallway.
"She was lying down [bleeding] . . . ," said Walter Owens, 39, in whose home the girl collapsed. Mr. Owens said he was on the third floor of the home when he had heard six or seven shots outside.
"It sounded like one of those automatics," Mr. Owens said.
Witnesses said the mother dropped or put her son down outside after she was shot.
Ms. Edmonds died at the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center shortly after 11:15 p.m., police spokesman Sam Ringgold said. She was shot less than two blocks from home.
The spokesman said police believe as many as half a dozen young men took part in the gun battle. No one has been arrested.
Witnesses indicated that some of the participants in the feud are from New York, Detective Constantine said.
One member in a rival group was shot and wounded Monday night, leading to the armed confrontation last night, he said.
"Imagine a gigantic shootout," he said. "It's like 'High Noon'. "
An officer who transported the child to the emergency room said one of the young men ducked behind the steps where Ms. Edmonds was sitting. Gunfire intended for him struck her, he said.
Detective Constantine said the suspects are known to deal drugs in the area.
"There will be multiple arrests the next day or so," he said.
In the 500 block of Presstman St. near where the shooting occurred is a playground and basketball court where young children and teen-agers play during the day.
However, at night residents said the playground is overrun with drug dealers and users.
"They don't mix. That's for sure," a young man known as Reds said today. "Ain't nothing wrong with the basketball court or nothing, but children should not have to watch out or be ducking for bullets."
Drug paraphernalia, such as small, used capsules that at one time contained a powdered drug, were found scattered around the area. Used syringes were also found.
Tyrone Caldwell, who lives nearby, said he regularly scavenges the playground looking for empty bullet casings.
"You always would rather see shooting stuff instead of drug stuff. I see them both. It don't matter whether it's a weekday or weekend. I found 20 shells one day."
Other neighbors were shaken by the shooting.
"It just happened so fast," said Amanda Owens, 75, who lives at the home where the victim was visiting.
Ms. Edmonds is the latest in a lengthening list of young shooting victims this year in Baltimore. At least 20 youngsters 15 years old or younger under have been shot this year in the city.
Another 15-year-old, Duron Curtis, who lived in the 1700 block of Presstman St., was found shot to death early Monday in the 2400 block of Reisterstown Road. Two men also were wounded in that incident, police said.
And Monday night, 15-year-old Daquann Spencer, of the 3300 block of Chesterfield Ave., was found wounded in the parking lot of a city apartment complex.