The grandmother of a 15-year-old boy killed by stray bullets Tuesday night in West Baltimore is pleading for people to put away their guns before another innocent bystander is slain.
"People should put their weapons aside and turn to the Lord," Margaret Little said a day after her grandson, Claudell Little, was killed while walking along the 1000 block of Edmondson Ave.
"If we had more love . . . this world would be in a better condition."
Claudell was struck in the head about 11:30 p.m. after a man fired five wild shots at three other men, police said. The youth was walking with an older female friend to help her get a taxi and the three intended victims of the gunfire were walking about a half-block behind them.
Neither the woman nor the three intended victims were injured in the spray of bullets.
Claudell was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
"It shouldn't have been," Mrs. Little said during an interview at her Harlem Park rowhouse. "Now that this has happened, all we can do is turn to the Lord."
Investigators said they have no suspects in the shooting. The three intended victims fled, police said.
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.
"During the school season, we call him our weekend child," Mrs. Little said, while sitting in her living room decorated with pictures of her eight children and other relatives.
"He was not a troublesome kid," she said. "He was a loving child."
On the day before the shooting, Claudell went shopping for school clothes with an uncle. When they returned home, the family ate dinner. Claudell later visited a neighbor friend and baby-sat for his aunt.
Shortly after 10:30 p.m., Claudell agreed to walk with the family friendto get a cab, Mrs. Little said. They got about two blocks from his home in the 900 block of Bennett Place when the shooting occurred. The friend ran back to the house to get the family, Mrs. Little said. The family went to the scene, and identified Claudell. A police officer drove Mrs. Little to Shock-Trauma to wait for word on her grandson.
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."
The eldest 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.
Claudell 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.
Police at the Western District, which patrols Harlem Park, say crime in the neighborhood is a problem, but that there are worse areas in the district. The neighborhood has been designated a drug-free zone, which means extra police patrols and enables officers to order loiterers to move if they witness suspected drug deals.
"Perhaps it's a high-crime area when you look at the city as awhole," said Lt. Otis Sistrunk, a shift commander at the Western District. "It's not a high-crime area when you just look at this district. . . . But this district is busier than most."