Robert Smith was sitting on the front steps of his house in the 300 block of Heather Ridge Drive shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday when a series of gunshots shattered the quiet of the residential block.
Smith, who has lived in the area for only a short time, said he had been watching a man getting back into his car parked on the street in front of his home when another car heading north on the street from Taney Avenue pulled up next to the first car.
“He was parked right here, then the other guy pulled up his car beside him and shot him in his arm,” Smith said, gesturing to the street. “You can see the blood out there in the street.”
What appeared to be a small bloodstain wet the pavement in the street near the end of Smith’s driveway where, just a few minutes before 12:50 p.m., Frederick police officers and crime scene technicians had packed up a handful of yellow evidence markers. Smith said he heard three or four gunshots and then both cars headed north toward the apartment buildings on the northern loop of Heather Ridge Drive.
While police could not provide many details of the shooting Tuesday afternoon, Lt. Kirk Henneberry, commander of the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, confirmed some aspects of Smith’s account.
“We do know there was a vehicle the victim had parked in that area and we do know that the victim did drive himself to [Frederick Memorial Hospital],” Henneberry said. “And we also know that the suspect also fled in a vehicle.”
City police were notified of the shooting by neighbors who called 911. Police caught up with the injured man after he arrived at the hospital for treatment of two gunshot wounds to his upper body, Henneberry said. The lieutenant confirmed that detectives had talked to the injured man at the hospital, but Henneberry did not disclose what, if anything, was discussed.
Police were not ruling out the possibility that Tuesday’s shooting was somehow linked to another shooting that left four people injured in the 600 block of North Market Street early Saturday, but it was too early to say, Henneberry said.
“They happened just a few days apart, so it definitely threw up a few red flags for that reason, but it’s just something we’re looking into at this point,” Henneberry said. “One thing I can say at this point is that we don’t believe [Tuesday’s shooting victim] was randomly attacked; it doesn’t appear this was a random incident that could have happened to anybody.”
Monocacy middle and elementary, Heather Ridge School, Gov. Thomas Johnson High School and the Career and Technology Center were on partial lockdown as a precaution for about 30 minutes as a result of the shooting, according to an announcement from the schools.
The sudden police activity also startled residents, several of whom stood around the edges of the yellow police tape while detectives worked and knocked on doors to talk with neighbors who live closer to where the shooting occurred.
“I’ve been here for 11 years, over 11 years, and I walk the dogs up and down this street four times a day, at least four times a day, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Eric Blank, who said he didn’t know anything until he noticed a police vehicle blocking the end of his street at Taney Avenue. “It’s a quiet neighborhood where everybody sticks mostly to themselves. It’s a different story further up by the apartments, but down here this is unheard of.”
Another longtime resident, Margaret Morris, agreed with Blank’s assessment as she stood next to him watching police tear down evidence tape and pack up.
“I hope this is just a once-in-a-lifetime thing, because I plan to be here for a long, long time,” she said. “We’ve been here for 30 years. This is our home.”
Anyone who witnessed anything unusual in the area or who believes they can otherwise help police investigate the shooting was asked to call Detective Dave Dewees at 240-409-0280. Tips can also be left anonymously by calling the department’s tip line, 301-600-8477 (TIPS), sent by text to 240-674-8477 (TIPS) or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.