Boy, 10, latest to be caught in cross-fire of city violence

Child in fair condition

paralyzed on right side

July 17, 2002|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,SUN STAFF

Ten-year-old Tevin Montrel Davis had just finished riding bikes with his friends Monday night when he joined his father on the front steps of their West Baltimore rowhouse shortly after 9.

Moments later, a group of men began arguing on the street corner in a familiar scene of drug trafficking - one that neighbors say they see all too often.

Then came the shots.

As gunfire rang out and four men ran toward a Jeep Cherokee parked close to where the children had been playing, Tevin was shot in the neck. He was listed in fair condition yesterday at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, where he was paralyzed on his right side. It could take a week to determine whether Tevin's paralysis is permanent, his parents said yesterday.

Tevin is the latest victim to be added to a growing list of young children caught in the cross-fire of Baltimore's drug-ravaged streets, where children often symbolize the grip small groups of gun-toting criminals have on inner-city neighborhoods.

"This boy was minding his own business, sitting in front of his own house with his parents protecting him," said the Rev. James McEachin of Faith Baptist Church in East Baltimore, who organized a rally yesterday in front of Tevin's home. "It wasn't a kid who was out running amok."

The shooting happened on what began as an ordinary summer night in the 1900 block of W. Fairmount Ave. Tevin and other neighborhood children rode their bikes in the street as his 13-year-old sister followed them on roller skates. His father watched from the steps as his mother chatted with next-door neighbors in front of their house, enjoying the rare cool evening.

Neighborhood residents didn't pay much attention to the four men who had gotten out of a dark-colored Cherokee parked at the end of the street. The men, most of them wearing white T-shirts and denim shorts, walked past the children to the corner at Monroe Street.

Fifteen minutes later, Tevin's father, Rodney Harden, 33, called his children in. "It was getting late and I said, `Sit down and relax for a while,' " he said. "We were talking about how fast he could ride his bike, how fast she could skate. And then the shots started firing."

There were six shots in all, with the last four coming in rapid succession, Harden said. The shots came from a group of six or seven people on Monroe and were aimed at the four men, who had been arguing with others, witnesses said. Three of the men ran into the Cherokee. As the car turned the corner, one of them leaned out of the back passenger door and pulled the fourth one in. It appeared none of the men was shot.

But Tevin was. One of the bullets - probably the third or fourth - entered the back of his neck and came out of his mouth, knocking out several of his teeth, the boy's father said.

After hearing the first two shots, Tevin had run toward his mother, who was in a neighbor's house, but Harden grabbed him by the collar and jerked him back. After he was shot, Tevin stumbled on the bottom step and ran into the neighbor's house. He said, "Mom, I've been hit," as he fell to the dining room floor.

"His little body got weak, and he collapsed on the floor," said Antoinette Davis, his 36-year-old mother. "I was terrified. We were looking for holes, but we didn't find any. But we had seen blood on his shirt and the floor."

Harden scooped up the boy in his arms and ran nearly two blocks to Bon Secours Hospital emergency room in the 2000 block of W. Fayette St. When Tevin appeared to lose consciousness, "I shook him and said, `Don't die on me, son,' " Harden said. "He grabbed my hand."

Once his condition was stabilized, Tevin was taken by ambulance to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Police have made no arrests and said yesterday they do not know what provoked the argument. The case is being handled by the Western District criminal investigation division and homicide detectives.

Tevin's parents stayed up all night at the hospital. They returned home yesterday at 9:30 a.m., and two hours later they were talking with reporters outside their home.

"It's got to the point where you're scared to sit outside because you never know what's going to happen," Antoinette Davis said. "[Monday] was just a nice day to sit outside. It wasn't too hot and it wasn't too cold."

Antoinette Davis described her son as a fun-loving child who "eats like a piggy," likes to play video games and watches professional wrestling religiously.

Several times a week during the summer, Tevin has accompanied his father, a security officer with Crown Security, to work.

"I just want to find the person who shot my son, and I want him in jail," said Tevin's mother, who also has a 22-month-old daughter.

Police noted that the area is known for drug trafficking. Many of the homes on the street are boarded up.

Davis said she hears gunshots almost every night. "I've taught my children, `You hear something that sounds like a gun, even if it's just firecrackers, you duck,' " she said. "Bullets don't have a name. That's why my son is in the emergency room."

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