Ida Lorraine Marshall, 59, known to acquaintances as a quiet and kindly person, paid with her life this week for being a concerned citizen.
When she heard gunshots outside her Landover apartment Wednesday night, "being a citizen and wanting to check," in the words of a Prince George's County police spokesman, she went to the window and peered out into the darkness. She was hit in the chest about 9:30 p.m. by a stray bullet, and died an hour later.
Marshall, who had been described by a friend as a woman who "would do anything she could to help you," became a woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Prince George's County's 84th homicide victim of the year.
Police said they had no suspects in the incident, which they described as both tragic and unusual.
"It's not something that happens every day," said Sgt. Mark A. Wright, a police spokesman. "It's a very definite concern to us."
Full details of the Wednesday night shooting were not yet available, Wright said. But police said that they believed the fatal shot was one of several fired between two men in the street outside the three and four-story buildings of the Washington Heights apartment development.
According to one neighbor in the 287-unit development on Capitol View Drive, the victim -- described as one of two or three sisters living in the neighborhood -- was "a sweet person, a very sweet person."
"Anything she could do to help you, she would," the woman said. "She was just a nice person."
After learning about the shooting, she added: "I haven't been worth two cents all day."
Because of a surge in drug-related slayings, homicides have soared in Prince George's this year, far surpassing last year's total of 52 slayings.
Neighbors said they believe drugs are or have been sold nearby but that the more overt activity diminished recently after security guards were posted.
One resident said that the drug dealers "are not giving them what they come to buy . . . ripping them off," and that customers sometimes "try to straighten it . . . ."
Several neighbors said that a resident of Marshall's building had been shot to death about a year ago "It's not something that happens every day. It's a very definite concern . . . .
-- police spokesman Mark A. Wright
when he refused to surrender his money to robbers. That incident was not related to drugs.
Wright said that while police have "had some problems in the neighborhood in the past," previous incidents had involved "nothing big and nothing unusual."
Marshall, who worked in the housekeeping department of the Grant Park Care Center, on Hayes Street NE, "was a very nice individual who stayed to herself and did her job," said Leon Garnett, a security officer at the center.
He said news of her death came as "a terrible shock to everyone who works here . . . .
"All she had to do is stay away from that window."