Mother decries random street violence Injured fourth-grader is in good condition after Hopkins surgery

April 16, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

On any other day, 9-year-old Ashley Johnson would have been in school, practicing reading lessons with her two dozen classmates.

But the Harford Heights Elementary fourth-grader spent yesterday recovering from surgery. The little girl with a broad smile and braids was shot in the back Monday night -- hit by a stray bullet as she sat in a chair in her living room.

Her mother, Shayna Chesley, 36, knows the street outside her house in the 2300 block of Harford Road isn't safe. That's why Ashley was inside, watching "Bewitched" on the Nickelodeon children's television network.

"You would expect that your own child could be sitting in a chair inside her own house and not get shot," Chesley said yesterday afternoon as she rushed to visit Ashley at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, where the girl was in good condition.

"If something is going to happen, it's going to happen outside," the angry mother said. "It's not supposed to happen when your daughter is inside watching TV. They are getting wild and crazy with this shooting."

No arrests

Baltimore police had not made any arrests yesterday, but investigators had a clearer idea of what happened minutes before 10 p.m. Monday when at least two gunmen standing on the west side of Harford Road fired shots across four lanes of traffic at a man running up the street.

Police estimated that six or seven shots were fired, striking a 22-year-old man three times in the legs and arms and hitting the fronts of three rowhouses.

Detectives were looking for a red Chrysler and a blue Ford, believed to be used as getaway cars. Police said the gunmen -- one of them described only as a male in his late teens -- apparently opened fire while standing on a corner and then sped away.

The wounded man and presumed target was identified as Tyrone Creighton, 22, of Southwest Baltimore. He was hit in the right ankle, right leg and left shoulder and was released after treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Police have not determined a motive.

Ashley was sitting in her living room when a bullet pierced a window frame, went through her white plastic chair and lodged in her lower right back.

"She just screamed," said the girl's mother, who ran upstairs from the basement to see what was wrong. "She just said she was hurt and didn't want anybody to touch her."

Shooting toll rises

Ashley was the seventh child age 12 or younger to be shot in

Baltimore this year. One of those shootings -- that of 3-year-old James Smith III, who was shot in a barbershop in January -- was fatal.

Since January, according to police, 283 people have been wounded by gunfire in Baltimore and 62 people have been shot '' fatally. Overall, the number of shooting victims in the city is down about 27 percent from the same time last year.

At her age, Ashley had already dealt with violent aspects of Baltimore life. One of her classmates is the daughter of Barry Anthony Harris, a 32-year-old disc jockey known as "DJ Dragon Cutz," who was fatally shot last month on an East Baltimore street.

Psychological counselors for the city school system met with Ashley's class yesterday, and her friends decided to send a petition to City Hall to stop the violence.

"She is a little girl that everybody would like to have," said Principal Goldye J. Sanders. "We're praying that she gets well fast and gets back to us."

Pub Date: 4/16/97

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