At Md. candlelight vigil, man targeted, shot at point-blank range

At first, it was a peaceful gathering. Dozens of teens, parents, and kids held a candlelight vigil at a New Carrollton basketball court, to remember 16-year old Christopher Smith, gunned down overnight Monday.

But in moments, the Friday night gathering in the 5200 block of 85th Avenue turned into a frightening and horrific scene.

"We was at the vigil holding candles and stuff and grieving", recalls Meech Jackson, a friend of Smith's. "When we heard some shots. I left. People scattered after that."

Witnesses say around 7:40 PM, a man wearing a ski-mask walked up and pulled out a gun.

"All I saw for real was him snatching back his dreads and put a gun in his face and I ran", says Anthony Adams.

Moments later, Adams says, he heard a single gunshot. Panicked vigil attendees fled for their lives, many heading toward a nearby shopping plaza. Several witnesses, including Aaron Scales, say it appeared the victim had been targeted.

"It's simple retaliation", says Scales. "I know what happened last week, everybody's shook up, everybody's about to do something crazy and stupid."

Early Tuesday, Christopher Smith and 23-year old Alphonso Thompson, Jr were shot and killed. The shootings were only 45 minutes apart, just blocks from each other.

There are fears gang activity and drugs are escalating the street violence in this area.

But police aren't saying whether retaliation was a factor in Friday's shooting.

"It was a very emotional vigil", says police spokesman Cpl. Evan Baxter. "I'm sure that played a part, but it's way too early to speculate what caused this."

The victim in this latest shooting suffered non-life threatening injuries. Police are trying to piece together information about the armed suspect.

Adams, meantime is decrying the cycle of violence.

"Got to stop doing this, 'cos what are we going to tell our kids. Can't raise your kids behind a jail cell. Can't raise your kids dead."