When Vonda Best heard a gunshot Monday night on the street outside her Northeast Baltimore home, she ran to the window — and watched as a hooded figure stood above her 21-year-old son and fired off several more rounds.
"I ran outside, came out the door and yelled, 'Y'all get
off my damn son!'" Best, 58, said in an interview Tuesday. "I just know
they killed my son, right in front of me."
She said the gunman, who was with a group of others with dark hoods
"down over their eyes," then waved the gun at her, sending her fleeing
"We called 911, and they took their damn time getting
here," she said. "I can't shut my eyes. I can't believe this is going
on, this is happening. It don't seem real. Whenever I shut my eyes, I
just see it happening over again."
Police said Damien Best was found with a gunshot wound
about 9:50 p.m. in the 5400 block of Moores Run Drive, in the city's
Cedonia neighborhood. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was
did not have a criminal record in Maryland. His mother said he
graduated from Reginald F. Lewis High School and worked as a teller at a
His death was the 29th homicide in Baltimore in
October, and the 279th this year, putting the city on pace to reach 300
killings before the year is out — a mark not seen since the 1990s.
a shame people are just so mean. I don't know why people are so mean
like that. They're just crazy," Vonda Best said. "People need to stop
being so mean and love each other. Just hold hands or something."
Monday night, friends and family flooded the Johns Hopkins Hospital
emergency room, Best said, waiting for news about her son. Homicide
detectives interviewed her about what she saw.
had been inside, eating dinner, just before the shooting, she said. She
doesn't know why he went outside. "Somebody must have called him," she
After the shooting, the group "robbed him, went in his
pockets, took his money, and then snatched his belt off of him," she
said. "If they needed that money like that, they could have asked him
for it. He would have given it to them, because he was like that. He was
a nice guy, never got in trouble."
Her son had a good head on his
shoulders, she said. He was working, living at home, and enjoyed
spending time with his girlfriend, his mother said.
He grew up on
Moores Run Drive, not far from the county line and facing a park the
city recently restored. He "didn't have beef with anyone," his mother
The police took her son's car, which was parked on the
street and was also hit by bullets, in the hope of collecting evidence,
As with so many killings in Baltimore this year, police
did not release any information about a possible suspect or a motive for
the crime. They asked anyone with information to call homicide
detectives at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.
Councilman Brandon Scott, who represents the district and lives down
the street, said he heard the gunshots — as did other members of the
Cedonia community — and went to the scene Monday night.
Scott said he'd been on the street that morning, passing out fliers about an upcoming Cedonia community meeting.
"It just shows you the deepness of the issues and the severity of the issues," he said of Best's killing.
one is safe from the cowardice. No one is safe from the disease that is
plaguing our city," Scott said. "For it to be right next to a park that
we just spent $5 million renovating, adding lights and improving fields
for youth, means we have to do more in every facet. It's not always
about guns and drugs."
Best said she wants justice for her son. Her sisters were at her home Tuesday, to provide support.
"We're just in shock," she said. "He was a good person."
Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-fatal-shooting-20151027-story.html