Lying on the couch, eating a cheeseburger and favoring bullet wound in her right leg, 13-year-old Brandy Bell yesterday offered some advice for inner-city children who hear gunshots.
"Fall to the ground. If you run, you just get shot," said Brandy, who has become somewhat of a veteran shooting victim. In five weeks, she has been shot twice by stray bullets fired near her home in West Baltimore's Lexington Terrace public housing complex.
"I was running the other night because we thought at first it was just firecrackers. Then I realized I'd been shot again. It was scary . . . they'll shoot anybody," Brandy said in an interview at home, after being discharged from University of Maryland Medical Center.
The bullet remains lodged in her upper leg, and the long-term prognosis is unclear. Doctors did not want to remove the slug because they feared that would cause severe tissue damage, Brandy's family said.
"I'm not going to walk for at least a week," said Brandy, a ninth-grader at Southwestern High School.
The latest shooting occurred about 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, while Brandy and several other teen-agers were watching a pickup football game in a field across the street from the high-rise, in the 700 block of W. Lexington St.
Police said a white Cadillac with tinted windows pulled to the corner of Fremont Avenue and Lexington Street, and a man inside rolled down a window and started firing. About 10 shots were fired, apparently intended for two men who ducked into a nearby building.
Brandy and her friends scattered, trying to run to Lexington Terrace's front entrance.
"I started saying, 'I got shot, I got shot.' And nobody believed me . . . I couldn't believe it happened again," Brandy recalled.
On Sept. 23, Brandy was shot in the same leg while standing in virtually the same place on Lexington Street. In that shooting, a teen-ager on the street started firing at another boy and one of the bullets grazed Brandy's leg.
Police said they have no suspects in either shooting.
Brandy's great-aunt, Barbara McKinney, 42, who has lived in Lexington Terrace since it opened 35 years ago, said she has seen violence in and around the development escalate steadily.
"The violence has gotten out of hand. Politicians have been talking about us for years, having meetings and reporting statistics. But nothing is ever done. They have no solutions," Ms. McKinney said.
Brandy, said she wants to move from the area. But she admits that she probably would still go back because all her friends live there.
"It's all turf. Innocent people are getting hurt because of what other people are doing," Brandy said. "In school we had to write about the curfew law. I wrote that it's not going to change anything . . . You can get shot any hour of the day or night, no matter where you are."