Madeleine Benda was getting ready to leave the Apartments at Sunset complex, where she lives, to pick up her boyfriend from work at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday when she heard nine or 10 gunshots outside her first-floor apartment.
When she stepped outside a moment later to cautiously make her way to her car, she found herself staring at a chilling crime scene just across the parking lot.
“As I got in my car I saw the passenger’s side of the [silver] car was open and I guess the person who was attacking the guy in the car had shot through the driver’s side window because there was glass everywhere, the window was shattered,” Benda said. “And you could see [a man] in the car moving a little bit in the driver’s seat, but he was obviously seriously injured.”
The man, later identified as 30-year-old Frederick resident Gregory Allen Bair Knight, had suffered gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a press release issued Friday morning by the Frederick Police Department.
Benda also caught a glimpse of the second victim, a 27-year-old woman who was a passenger in the car who was also shot multiple times.
“She was still in the car, yelling and screaming,” Benda said.
Fortunately, Frederick police arrived almost immediately, Benda said, saying the first officer was already at the complex when she walked out and saw the gruesome scene.
Police treated the injured woman at the scene until emergency medical personnel arrived and she was flown to a trauma center in a Maryland State Police helicopter. The woman remained in serious but stable condition Friday, but the department was not releasing her identity, said Sgt. Andrew Alcorn, supervisor of the department’s Criminal Investigations Division.
Detectives collected evidence and talked to potential witnesses through the night, but Alcorn wouldn’t elaborate Friday afternoon, saying it was too early to discuss the case in detail.
“I can say that we did a thorough processing of the crime scene, including the vehicle that they were in, so now we’re at the stage where we’ve got to process all of that information, then move forward from there,” the sergeant said.
Police also declined to speculate on potential suspects or what motivated the shooting, with Alcorn citing both the early stage of the case and the wounded woman’s condition. Detectives were still waiting for the woman to recover enough for them to speak to her and hopefully learn more about the shooting, Alcorn said.
Detectives were confident enough to say that Thursday night’s violence did not seem random.
“The victims, and specifically the male, he, at least, to the best of our knowledge, was the intended target,” Alcorn said. “Generally speaking, we do not believe there is a threat to the public. The individuals who were hit were directly targeted.”
Benda said she was comforted by how quickly the police responded as well as their statement that the crime did not appear to be random, but she still expressed concern that such a violent crime happened so close. Benda mentioned several other crimes that have occurred recently leading up to Thursday’s shooting.
“Ever since my car was stolen in December, I’ve never really felt safe living there. I’ve lived in ... Frederick for a long time and I know there’s crime here, but this event now made me feel totally uncomfortable,” Benda said, adding that she also regularly sees teens and others trying to break into cars in the apartment complex parking lot. “I have an understanding that crime has no ZIP code, it has no borders. However, seeing a murder? I’ve never experienced anything like that. ... I definitely cannot continue living there feeling this unsafe.”
Gail Bradley, who has lived in a house less than a block away from the Apartments at Sunset for about 20 years, said she has noticed that more crimes tend to occur in the apartment complexes than in the rest of the neighborhood. Bradley is also one of the coordinators of Neighborhood Advisory Council 7, which encompasses the apartment complex and the surrounding area.
“There have been gunshots over there before, but it doesn’t really come into our community. It stays in the apartment complex,” Bradley said.
Still, Bradley said Thursday’s violence was not characteristic of either the neighborhood or the apartment complex, saying that her daughter once considered moving into the complex.
“They’re good neighbors, I don’t see that apartment complex as a problem at all,” Bradley said. “I think it was random and I think it was a one-off. I don’t think it’s indicative of the neighborhood or the apartments at all.”
A woman who answered a reporter’s call seeking comment from the apartment complex earlier Friday said that she would forward inquiries and the reporter’s contact information to a manager for comment. A manager had not returned the call as of Friday evening.
Anyone who either witnessed the shooting or can otherwise provide more information to the police is asked to call Detective Doug Ames at 240-674-6811. Tips can also be left anonymously by calling the department’s tips line at 301-600-8477 (TIPS), sent via text to 240-674-8477 (TIPS) or in an email to fpdcrimetip@frederickmd police.org.