Concern should be over more than location of fatal shooting


April 07, 2009|By PETER HERMANN

Doreatha Wright is dead, another victim of another shooting in the city. Her son, Bobby Beasley, 20, sits on the couch in his mother's house on North Bond Street, his girlfriend's hands on his lap, and matter-of-factly contemplates how a life could end so abruptly.

"She was out enjoying a beautiful day, and she got shot."

In Baltimore, death can be that simple.

Doreatha was shot Sunday afternoon, about 4:30, in Upper Fells Point while driving her white Toyota Camry packed with family east on Gough Street. She had just picked up Bobby at his girlfriend's grandmother's house, and as she approached Broadway, Bobby glanced to the left through the driver's side window.

"I saw a dude shooting," he told me. "I told my mother, 'Don't stop, don't stop,' but then I saw blood coming out of her head." The Camry rolled to a stop in the wide median of Broadway. Bobby said his mother had been hit twice in the neck and once in the head. He called the shooting random - his mother caught in a gunfight or a drive-by. "She's a lovely lady who has never done anything wrong in her life," he said.

FOR THE RECORD - Because of incorrect information supplied by the Baltimore Police Department, a crime column published in Tuesday's editions incorrectly identified the bar from which a group of angry men emerged, one of whom fired as many as 12 shots on a residential street in Fells Point. Police said the group had been in Cheerleader's on Broadway.
The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

Doreatha Wright, 42, raised five children in the now-demolished Flag House Courts public housing high-rise. She went from welfare to a job at the Dollar Store and then to disability because of diabetes. She liked to stay home to play backgammon and had no criminal record to speak of in Maryland.

Police won't yet say whether the attack was random. As many as 15 bullets were fired at the car at close range, and only one person was struck in a vehicle in which every seat was occupied, including one by a baby.

But the concern people raised in the e-mails they sent me Monday was whether the shooting was actually in Fells Point or a foot or two outside the line.

Maj. Roger Bergeron, the Southeast District commander, wrote in an e-mail to the head of his community relations council that the shooting "was not directly related to Fells Point. The incident stems from Perkins Housing," referring to the public housing complex on Gough Street.

The major promised to send more foot and bicycle officers "to Fells Point in order to create a higher level of safety."

Just before midnight Friday, and just moments after officers quelled a boisterous argument outside Moby's bar on Lancaster Street in the touristy heart of Fells Point, a man fired a gun into the air. Another man trying to get out of the way twisted his ankle and fell, hitting his head on the pavement.

So now we rationalize.

The shooting on Lancaster involved drunken partyers, and the shot missed. The shooting on Gough was not really Fells Point, at least not the one with stone streets and blues jams at bars, but the more edgy and ethnic Upper Fells Point, and even then the shots were fired closer to public housing than to Broadway, and the victim might have been targeted so maybe it wasn't random and doesn't impact us.

If we're trying to unite a city in peace instead of divide the good from the bad, none of that should matter. Targeted or not, driving through public housing or Fells Point, bullets flew on a public street in daylight, and a woman enjoying a beautiful day got shot.

That should be all we need to be outraged.

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