Man, 24, charged in shooting of toddler

Boy, 2, will recover, family members say

April 29, 2001|By Caitlin Francke and Brenda J. Buote | Caitlin Francke and Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

An East Baltimore man was arrested yesterday and charged with shooting 2-year-old Carlos Woods, who is expected to survive injuries suffered Friday when a stray bullet hit him the head, according to police and family members.

Kenneth Kelly, 24, of the 1700 block of N. Durham St., was arrested about 3 a.m. yesterday by the Baltimore Police Department's quick-response team. He is charged with first-degree attempted murder, said Angelique Cook-Hayes, a city police spokeswoman.

Kelly was being held without bail at Central Booking and Intake Center.

"We think he's the shooter," Cook-Hayes said. "He was found on the first floor [of his home] and was arrested without incident."

As police searched for a second suspect, two of Carlos' relatives said the toddler, who was critically wounded while standing on the front steps of his family's East Baltimore rowhouse, will likely recover.

One family member said that the boy was hit in the back of the head and that the bullet exited through his scalp.

"As far as we know, he is going to be all right," said Nicole Coombs, Carlos' aunt, who was interviewed at the toddler's home yesterday. She had returned earlier from Johns Hopkins Children's Center with the boy's mother.

Carlos remained in critical condition yesterday, and a hospital spokeswoman declined to comment on his prognosis.

According to police, Carlos was hit by one of four bullets fired from an aqua or light-blue Dodge Shadow about 10 a.m. Friday in the 1800 block of N. Chapel St. The shots, fired from a .45-caliber handgun, were aimed at Darryl Hairston, a 20-year-old man who fled when the gunfire started, Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said.

Hairston, who was hit once in the thigh, dived into the door that Carlos had just opened to retrieve a plastic cup. A bullet hit the toddler as he stood on top of the steps.

Hairston, leaping over furniture, ran through the house and bolted out the back door in trying to escape from the shooter, said Charlene Waller, who was in the house at the time. She has been staying with Carlos' family for several months.

"Everybody just looked at him," Waller said. Carlos' mother "was hollering. `Where's my baby? Where's my baby?' She was scared to look ... I was scared to look, too, but I had to go get him."

Waller said she found the boy on the floor near the door, face down in a pool of blood.

Waller broke into sobs yesterday as she recounted how the boy, an only child, ended up in the line of the bullet. She said Carlos had been on the stoop drinking juice Friday morning and had left a favorite plastic cup with a lid on the steps.

He wanted a drink of soda before eating chicken she had prepared, so he headed toward the door to retrieve his cup.

"He wanted his cup that he had earlier," Waller, 37, said. "That's when the guy came running through, and the next thing you know we heard the gunshots."

Norris said the gunman may have targeted Hairston to retaliate for a shooting Thursday at a West Baltimore lounge that left a man critically wounded. Investigators said the lounge shooting may have been in retaliation for a shooting Wednesday in the 1800 block of E. Eager St. that left a man slightly wounded.

In Carlos' Broadway East neighborhood, witnesses to the toddler's shooting reported seeing two male occupants of the two-door Dodge, but it was not clear whether the shooter was the driver or passenger.

Yesterday, neighbors milled around the trash-strewn alley, talking about the boy. They described him as a vibrant youngster who often played around the street and cheerily knocked on neighbors' doors.

"He was just a happy little camper," neighbor Cassandra Gross said.

Carlos' grandfather, Carlos Woods Sr., came to the street in the wheelchair he uses since being shot in a drug dispute in July 1999, about 10 blocks from where his grandson was hit.

"My grandson got shot, man," he shouted to a passer-by. "My grandson, he a beautiful kid. He didn't do nothing to nobody. They shot a baby."

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