Woman holding son wounded in gunfire

February 07, 1994|By Scott Shane | Scott Shane,Sun Staff Writer

When the shooting started yesterday afternoon at an East Baltimore intersection, Jacqueline Holiday scooped up her 2-year-old son, Michael, and ran from the bus stop for the cover of the A & C Grocery.

By the time she reached the store at Milton Avenue and Biddle Street, the 18-year-old woman had been critically wounded -- hit with two bullets, one in the chest and one in the face.

"She came through the door, still holding her baby, and fell right there," said Harrison Washington, 35, who works part time at the corner shop. "She called out, 'I was shot, please help me and my baby.' "

Mr. Washington ran to her side. "I got some towels and tried to pack the bleeding," he said. He comforted little Michael, who was unscathed but frightened and crying, his yellow coat covered with his mother's blood.

Ms. Holiday lost consciousness in the few minutes before the ambulance arrived to take her to Johns Hopkins Hospital, Mr. Washington said. She remained in critical condition last night after several hours of surgery, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Ms. Holiday had set out for the bus stop in front of the grocery store just five minutes before the 1:30 p.m. shooting, planning a trip across town to the birthday party of a young relative in the Park Heights neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore, said Debbie Wilmer, her cousin.

She was a chance shooting victim, uninvolved in the dispute that led to gunshots, police said.

One neighbor, who asked not to be named, said she saw a dozen young men scuffling as she was walking to church a few minutes before the shooting. Three younger boys ran a block south to Chase Street to tell a woman, "Your son is getting banked [beaten]," and the woman began running up the street, the neighbor said.

She said the shooting began moments later. Four shots were fired by a single gunman, who stood on Milton Avenue south of the bus stop and fired north, aiming past Ms. Holiday at an intended victim on Biddle Street, police said.

Investigators identified a suspect and were seeking an arrest warrant last night, said police Detective Bobby Patton.

When the shooting occurred, Joyce Williams, Ms. Holiday's mother, was summoned by another daughter and ran to the store, where she consoled Michael.

"I worry about their safety every day," she said as she led the toddler back to the family's home on Biddle Street before leaving for the hospital.

Henry Williams, the victim's brother, stood somberly next to the shooting site, where officers collected bullet casings and photographed blood stains. "I just hope she makes it," he said.

Ms. Holiday has worked for two years at a McDonald's restaurant near Reisterstown Road and Northern Parkway. "She's a nice girl, a real outgoing girl, real fun and a hard worker," said restaurant manager Donta Thomas. She had been named an "All-American Super Star" by McDonald's management for learning to do every job in the restaurant, he said.

Baltimore's Eastern District, where the shooting occurred, saw more gunfire last year than any other, with 80 killings and 525 nonfatal shootings reported. Many of the shootings involve disputes between drug dealers plying the area's busy cocaine and heroin trade, but bystanders like Ms. Holiday regularly are caught in the gunfire.

Vincent DeMarco, executive director of Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, described the shooting as "another tragic consequence of handgun proliferation in our state. It shows why we need to pass comprehensive gun control legislation immediately."

Mr. DeMarco's group is holding a rally in support of its gun control proposals at the State House in Annapolis at 7 o'clock tonight. James S. Brady, the former White House press secretary wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt, is scheduled to speak.

In the A & C Grocery about an hour after the shooting, the floor had been scrubbed, the yellow police tape barrier had been removed, and customers began to trickle in, sharing their concerns about the shooting.

"Stop the Tears," said the sticker of an old anti-violence campaign, pasted on the door through which Ms. Holiday had tumbled. "Slick Rick's Bail Bond" was the motto on a flier posted nearby.

But few neighbors were willing to discuss what they saw or heard about the fight or the assailant, for fear of retaliation from the gun-toting young men who hang out on the corner.

"You talk about that, and you're taking your life into your hands," said one young woman.

Mr. Washington, the grocery worker, said he would not forget what he had seen.

"You hear the gunfire, but that's the first time I saw someone shot," he said. "You see a mother holding her son get shot in broad daylight, and it shakes you up."

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