When Doris Dangerfield saw a body in front of her Cherry Hill home early Wednesday, she called to her 21-year-old son, Angelo, who she believed was in his bedroom sleeping, to have him check things out.
There was no reason to think that it was Angelo lying on the sidewalk. Involved in various youth leadership programs and due at work soon for his apprenticeship with the city housing department, Angelo Dangerfield was a model for his peers, a Southwestern High School graduate always willing to lend a helping hand and determined to better himself.
But after slipping a pair of shoes on, his 55-year-old mother got to the front door just in time to see police rolling over the body of her son, who had been shot in the chest while walking his pit bull, Princess.
"My son didn't have to die," she said Wednesday while choking back tears.
City police were investigating the fatal shooting, which took place just before 6 a.m. in the 2800 block of Spelman Road. Closed-circuit camera footage from the neighborhood shows Dangerfield walking the dog, a morning ritual. By the time the camera pans around, he is on the ground. When officers arrived, Princess was running in circles around his body.
Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman, said detectives had no witnesses and knew of no motive, and confirmed that Dangerfield did not have prior contacts with police.
"From all accounts, he was a good, hard-working kid who went to work, went to church," Moses said.
At his home in the Cherry Hill Homes public housing development, family and friends were also searching for answers. Cousin Shawanda Rawlings thumbed through a folder stuffed with certificates and awards, some from anti-drug workshops and a Johns Hopkins University Inventors of the Future program, that Dangerfield had amassed over the years.
"He literally touched people's lives," said Dangerfield's sister, Stacey Rawlings, 39.
As she spoke, a worker from Safe Streets, a violence intervention program, was inside the home comforting people and warning against retaliation. Safe Streets recently led a community march in Cherry Hill after a teenage girl was struck with a stray bullet while doing her homework.
"You all right? You look mad," the worker said to one of Dangerfield's friends. "We don't need anyone else getting hurt."
Shirley Foulks, a Cherry Hill community leader, knew Dangerfield through the Cherry Hill 4-H Teen Corps Club and her Future Leaders in Training program. He volunteered to mentor younger members of the community and tried to steer his classmates toward similar opportunities.
"He was a good kid; he wasn't a gang-banger or a drug dealer," said Foulks, who this past summer was hit with a stray bullet as she sat in her home. "He was an ideal young man."
Dangerfield was working with the Baltimore housing department through its "Step Up" program, which provides hands-on training in building and rehabilitating local construction projects.
Construction wasn't his preferred occupation; he aspired to go to college and was fascinated with music and sound engineering, hoping to parlay that interest into a job. Relatives said he was sometimes frustrated that his dreams weren't panning out the way he envisioned.
His family's grief turned to frustration when they talked about the neighborhood, which has seen three fatal shootings this year.
"People need to stop sitting around, watching the neighborhood dwindle down," said Shawanda Rawlings. "This is where you live. There's got to be somebody that knows something."
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