As detectives combed the alley near the 8700 block of Loch Bend Drive for evidence of an unknown gunman, friends of the victim, 30-year-old Ramel Baker, recalled him as a positive influence in a community that has more than its share of negative ones.
"Mel was a wonderful person. He was like... I call him the mayor of our community,” said Kimberly Dempsey. “This is a lot of homelessness here in our community and Mel was always the person to give a helping hand."
But late Sunday evening, Baker died at the hand of an armed assailant, and at this point police say they have little to go on.
"The initial investigation into the incident has indicated that the victim was standing in an alley when he was approached and shot by the suspect,” said Cpl. John Wachter of the Baltimore County Police Department. “This incident is under investigation by our homicide unit. Detectives are going to be working to determine if this was a targeted crime."
Now a single candle burns at the base of a makeshift memorial to the man whose life was snuffed out in a matter of seconds.
"I came outside and I just saw people running, and that's how I learned about it... just laying here," said Dempsey.
And his neighbors and friends are balancing their grief over his sudden death with memories of the humanity he brought to the indifferent streets that surround them.
"When I first moved around here, Mel was the first person that I met and he welcomed me with open arms into the community," Dempsey said. "He was just a good friend to all. All of the children loved him. Everybody around here loved him, and it's such a sad day for all of us. We're going to truly miss his smile and miss everything about him."
Paramedics transported Baker to the Shock Trauma Center, but their efforts to save his life would be in vain.
If you have any information that could help police, you're asked to call 410-307-2020.