‘She was an in­no­cent by­stander’: Woman, 72, shot in W. Bal­ti­more

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD MARYLAND - By Colin Camp­bell

Yvette Thomas ar­rived home on North Small­wood Street in West Bal­ti­more around 4 p.m. Wednesday, about the same time as the cou­ple next door.

They chat­ted briefly on the front porch, she said, grum­bling about re­cent parking tick­ets they’d re­ceived on their block, then went in­side.

Ten min­utes l ater, Thomas’ daugh­ter-in-law hollered to her: The 72year-old woman she had been speak­ing with on the porch had been shot out­side. The vic­tim’s hus­band said his wife — whom Thomas af­fec­tion­ately called “Mama” — had re­turned out­side just as a gun­fire erupted on the cor­ner, Thomas said.

“She had went back out­side to make sure she had locked her car and got caught in the cross­fire,” Thomas said. “She was an in­no­cent by­stander.”

The woman’s name was not re­leased. She was shot in the chest about 4:37 p.m. in the 1600 block of N. Small­wood Street in Easter­wood and was alert and con­scious when she was taken to a hos­pi­tal, ac­cord­ing to Bal­ti­more Po­lice.

No sus­pect has been iden­ti­fied, po­lice said. She came home from the hos­pi­tal Thurs­day, Thomas said, but her con­di­tion was not known.

The broad- day­light shoot­ing ter­ri­fied Thomas, she said. She barely slept Wednesday night.

Orig­i­nally from Park Heights in North­west Bal­ti­more, Thomas had moved less than six months ear­lier to the Easter­wood neigh­bor­hood from Up­ton to get away from the con­stant vi­o­lence there, she said.

The street fea­tures wellkept row­houses with tidy yards. The cou­ple next door wel­comed her fam­ily “with open arms,” she said. Now, Thomas’ daugh­ter wants her to move again.

“I’m ready to pack up and leave,” she said. “I don’t feel safe. … Where can you move now in Bal­ti­more City and feel safe?”

Bul­let holes pep­pered the sid­ing on the out­side wall of the Wish­ful Gro­cery & Deli at Small­wood and Baker streets, and the driver’s side mir­ror of a van parked on the cor­ner was dam­aged Thurs­day. A Bal­ti­more po­lice pa­trol car idled nearby, while groups of young men stood on the cor­ners.

A 34-year-old neigh­bor who asked not to be named said she was in­side dur­ing the shootout but heard the “Boom!” “Boom!” “Boom!” of the gun­shots.

“It’s crazy,” she said. Jer­maine Matthews heard about the shoot­ing from his mother and wife, who called him si­mul­ta­ne­ously, just as he re­ceived an alert on the Ci­ti­zen app.

The 24-year-old, who grew up on North Small­wood Street, sped the en­tire four-hour drive to Bal­ti­more from Pitts­burgh, where he had been work­ing on a con­struc­tion site. He said he wanted to check on the Rev. Can­dace Wil­lis, his men­tor and the 73-yearold pas­tor at Greater Works King­dom Min­istry. He wor­ried she was the vic­tim.

While re­lieved to learn Wil­lis wasn’t shot, he said he was dis­ap­pointed to hear about the shoot­ing at all.

“It’s a sad sit­u­a­tion,” Matthews said. “It’s non­sense.”

Bal­ti­more’s mayor and po­lice have limited abil­ity to stop the mur­ders, said Wil­lis, who raised five chil­dren and has lived in the neigh­bor­hood for 33 years.

“Can they be in all places all the time?” she said.

The pas­tor said she reg­u­larly ap­proaches drug deal­ers in the neigh­bor­hood, ask­ing them: “Can I pray for you?”

“I pray,” she said. “I just stay in prayer un­til some­body gives these young people a re­spect­ful life.”

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