Three men were seriously injured yesterday when a gunman, armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, shot from a third-floor window into a van parked on a West Baltimore street.
Police said an unlicensed taxi driver and two young male passengers were in a van parked in front of a three-story brick rowhouse in the 1100 block of Harlem Ave. about 10: 45 a.m. when someone pointed the weapon out of a window and fired about a dozen bullets at the vehicle.
As the bullets rained down on the van, the driver got out and staggered about 50 feet into a nearby alley where he collapsed, police said.
"I heard the shots and looked out and saw someone trying to crawl up the alley into the playground," said Laymone Hunter, who lives next to the house from which the shots were fired. "He did not make it."
Police said one of the two passengers drove off with the van, which had shattered windows and bullet holes in the roof.
The van struck two parked cars -- one at Harlem and North Carrollton avenues and the other at North Carrollton Avenue and West Fayette Street -- as the men made their way to Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
There, one of the men collapsed in the center of West Baltimore Street, police said, and the other walked into the emergency room.
Louis Edwards, 44, of the 3400 block of Garrison Blvd., who police identified as the unlicensed taxi driver, was in serious condition at Shock Trauma, as were Van Scott, 17, of the 300 block of N. Fremont Ave. and Antoine Johnston, 19, of the 1000 block of N. Payson St., police said.
Edwards and Scott were shot multiple times in the legs, police said, and Johnston was shot multiple times in the back, stomach and legs. Agent Angelique Cook-Hayes, a police spokeswoman, said the incident was probably drug-related.
At the scene of the shooting, officers recovered close to a dozen shell casings.
Bullets from the AK-47 penetrated the van's steel roof with so much force that they went through the floor of the vehicle and into the concrete pavement, police said.
"That type of weapon can really tear people up," said Sgt. Tony C. Restivo of the Western District. "That is a nasty, nasty piece."
About 7 p.m., police recovered the weapon from an apartment and described it as a "cheap AK-47."
Five young men inside the apartment, including two brothers, 21 and 13, who live there, were being questioned last night by homicide detectives.
Neighbors said the brothers have lived there about a year.
"They acted like typical young urban people," Hunter said. "But I never saw a parent with them."
Police said yesterday's incident was one of the few times an AK-47 was used in a Baltimore shooting.
Restivo, a 28-year veteran, said he knew of one other incident in which an AK-47 was used.
A homicide detective said last night "you see more and more of them" on the streets.
Created in 1949 for the former Soviet Union's military, the gun uses a 30-round clip and is capable of shooting up to 600 rounds a minute.