Residents of the Fox Club apartment complex in Capitol Heights were out yesterday doing placid Sunday chores -- fixing a car, bringing in the groceries, cleaning their homes.
Dwayne Vinson, the manager of the apartments in the 1900 block of Brooks Drive, was also doing chores, but they were anything but placid.
Wearing green rubber gloves, he squirted cleaner on the stairs between two apartments and scrubbed at some dark spots. "You should have seen this place," he said. "Blood was in the hallways, on the walls, the floor, the doors . . . puddles of it everywhere." A bloody handprint was still on a wall, and Vinson warned a passerby not to touch it.
About 4:45 p.m. Saturday, as children played near a swimming pool a few yards away, four people were shot in what neighbors say began as a dispute over loud music. After arguing inside an apartment, two men left to get guns and started shooting when they returned, police said. The shots were apparently fired indoors, but residents described seeing two wounded people run out the front door and two out the back before collapsing.
"They were arguing, and next thing you know, they started shooting at each other," said Richard Lee, 18, a lifeguard at the pool, which is down the hill from the four-story building. "A boy got shot and rolled down the hill," he said.
A woman and three men were injured, said Cpl. Debbi Carlson, a Prince George's police spokeswoman. One is 17 years old; the others are in their mid-twenties.
Carlson said that none of the injuries was life-threatening and that three of the injured people had been released from the hospital by yesterday morning. Police were planning to arrest the fourth person, who was still hospitalized, she said, adding that she believed they had found "something on the scene" to implicate him.
Vinson said that the dispute arose between two families, one living in an upstairs apartment and the other downstairs, but that the people involved in the shooting did not live there.
The families involved had not been problem tenants, Vinson said. "Three children, a mother, a father," he said, pointing at a closed door on the bottom floor. "These people are good people, they're family people. Just something happened that took them out of pocket."
It can happen to the most ordinary people, he said; tensions escalate, and they can't find a way back down. "People push, and they go further and further."
Even so, Vinson said he had asked both families to leave immediately. In the downstairs apartment, people were hastily sealing cardboard boxes and hauling them outside. A young woman whom neighbors identified as a resident would not answer questions. "We're just trying to get stuff squared away here," she said.
Within minutes of the shooting, rumors crackled through the housing complex, not all of them accurate. "My kids told me that she got stabbed in her sleep," said LaTasha Davis, a mother of four who lives upstairs from the shooting scene and knows one of the people involved in the dispute. "I couldn't believe that it was her," she said. "She's one of those parents who really care about their children."
"P.G. County has gotten worse," said another neighbor, who did not want to give her name. "It's not really safe anywhere."
Lee said that after seeing one of the victims roll down the hill, he called 911 and shut the pool for the rest of the day. "I've seen stuff like that happen before, but not where there was a bunch of kids here," he said.