Scratched in ink next to a bloodstain on the stairwell carpet was the name "Jermaine," a reminder to residents of a Southeast Baltimore apartment complex of a deadly encounter between two children.
Jermaine Holmes of the 1700 block of Dundalk Ave. was only 14 when he bled to death Wednesday afternoon at the Holabird Park Apartments -- stabbed, city police said, by an 11-year-old friend with whom he had been playing. The child was charged as a juvenile yesterday with murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
It was the second time a child was charged with killing another child in the Baltimore area in little more than a week. On April 29, 13-year-old Chineye Mills was stabbed to death in a fight with a 12-year-old girl at a busy downtown intersection.
"Kids are killing kids," said Robert W. Healy, 33, the maintenance man for Holabird Management, operator of the apartment complex, who administered first aid moments after the stabbing. "They were just playing, but that's a heck of a way of playing."
When police arrived at the scene in the 1700 block of Nome St. about 4: 50 p.m., they found Jermaine unconscious by the second-floor stairs with a knife wound to the heart.
Details of what happened between the boys remained sketchy. Residents of the apartment complex described the two as friends who sometimes wrestled with each other.
"I can't believe [the 11-year-old] meant to hurt him. Those two play every day," said Catina Manley, who lives in a nearby apartment. "It could have been that Jermaine just fell on the knife."
Healy said he was doing repairs in an apartment when he heard a boy yelling, "Don't die on me, don't die on me!"
Healy, who lives in the apartment complex, ran to the stairwell and found Jermaine on the floor, bleeding. He said he tore open the boy's shirt and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
"The other boy was sitting on the steps telling me what had
happened, but I really wasn't listening to him because I was so busy trying to help Jermaine," Healy said. "He [Jermaine] never spoke. At one point he looked like he wanted to tell me something, but he couldn't."
A friend in the neighborhood scrawled Jermaine's name in black ink on the carpet near where he died.
Police said the accused 11-year-old, who lives in the neighborhood, was sent to a juvenile facility. The Sun does not disclose the names of suspects charged as juveniles.
Parents of both children were unavailable for comment yesterday.
"The sad thing about all this murder in the city is that innocent kids are in the cross-fire every day," said Norma Rayner, 34, who lives with Healy and is raising five children in the apartment complex. "This one yesterday was too close to home. It's time to move."