A 15-year-old West Baltimore boy was accidentally shot and killed last night by a man who fired five wild shots at three other men walking a half-block behind the victim, city police said.
The teen-ager, Claudell Little, of the 900 block of Bennett Place, was shot in the head shortly after 11:30 as he was walking in the 1000 block of Edmondson Ave. He was pronounced dead 20 minutes later at the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center without regaining consciousness.
"He was just an innocent kid walking down the street with a friend a half-block from his home," said Homicide Detective Donald Waltmeyer.
The boy was the 213th person slain in Baltimore so far this year, compared with 189 at this time in 1991.
The detective said Claudell was walking west with a female friend to help her get a cab when the gunman approached from behind three men who were walking a half-block behind the couple.
From several yards away, the gunman opened fire with a large-caliber handgun, sending five bullets toward the three men, the detective said.
None of the bullets found their intended marks, but Claudell, who was about two steps to one side of the woman, was shot once in the left side of his head and fell to the sidewalk, the detective said.
It shouldn't have happened," said Margaret Little, the victim's grandmother, who was called from her home immediately after the shooting occurred.
"We don't know where the bullets were from," she said. "All we know is that the bullets hit him in the head."
When police arrived moments after the shooting, the mortally wounded boy was lying on his side, bleeding from a massive bullet wound.
Immediately after the shooting, the three men who had been shot at ran off in different directions. None was found by police.
Witnesses said the gunman ran down a nearby alley and vanished.
He was described as a black male wearing a white shirt and dark-colored shorts.
Where the gunman had fired, police found five empty shells.
The woman who was with Claudell at the time of the shooting was not hit and ran off to the Littles' home to get the family, who lives about two blocks from the scene.
As a large crowd gathered on the street just west of the intersection with the 500 block of N. Arlington Ave. and watched the crew of a city Fire Department ambulance attempt to revive the boy, the victim's family arrived.
Police said the family identified the boy. Mrs. Little was driven by police to Shock-Trauma to wait for word on Claudell's condition.
Claudell, who would have been a ninth-grader at Southern High School this fall, lived with Mrs. Little during the summer and weekends during the school year.
The oldest of five children, Claudell enjoyed playing basketball and listening to music: He would often wear a personal stereo for hours in his room, Mrs. Little said.
"He was not a troublesome kid," she said. "He was a loving child."
The boy told her that after finishing high school he hoped to follow in the footsteps of several uncles who have served in the military, Mrs. Little said.
Mrs. Little said she always realized that she or her family could become a victim of crime, but "I hoped and prayed it wouldn't happen."
Detective Waltmeyer said the young woman who was walking with Claudell was interviewed at police headquarters but was unable to identify the gunman or his three intended victims.