A literal white picket fence surrounds the yard where, nearby, a young couple and parents, Charles Johnson and Eniyah Smith, were shot multiple times and killed in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, Nov. 25 in West Baltimore.
A folding table on the sidewalk told a story, in shorthand, of mourning and lives ended. The table was covered in a green tablecloth soaked by a steady rain and weighed down with bricks. Spent candles and trails of wax remained. A bouquet of balloons was tied to the fence.
Alicia Briggs, Johnson’s mother, said in a phone interview Friday she was still in disbelief at the deaths of her oldest son and future daughter-in-law.
“I just don’t know what my life will be like without them.” she said. “Both of them were my protectors, they always took care of me, they always made sure I was OK.”
Baltimore Police said officers responded at 5:05 a.m. to the 300 block of South Chapel Gate Lane to reports of a shooting. They found Johnson, 21, and Smith, 20, with multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. Life-saving efforts were performed, police said, and medics transported them to an area hospital where they were pronounced dead.
The investigation remains open and active. No suspects have been arrested or leads announced.
Johnson and Smith lived with Briggs, she said, along with their daughter Chloe, a bright and jolly 3-year-old who likes to tell you how she’s feeling and plays with a gooey slime that gets all over the furniture.
“I’m trying to be strong for the sake of my granddaughter,” Briggs said. “She still doesn’t know her parents are never coming back.”
Briggs set up a GoFundMe page set up for Chloe, and as of Friday, more than $4,000 had been raised. Another GoFundMe account has also been created for Smith. As of Friday, more than $8,000 had been raised. The fundraiser’s organizer, Shakia Wright, did not respond to a written message.
According to an obituary posted online, visitation for Smith will be held Dec. 11 from 4-7 p.m. at the Calvin B. Scruggs Funeral Home in Baltimore. A wake will be held Dec. 12 at 10 a.m., followed by Smith’s funeral, and her burial at King Memorial Park in west Baltimore County.
Briggs described the young couple as completely in love — “All they talked about was being together forever, that’s all they talked about,” she said — high school sweethearts who had been together since they were 14. Johnson was training to become a barber and Smith worked as a preschool teacher. Before their deaths, the couple was on the cusp of moving out of Briggs’ house and into an apartment of their own. They had saved money and were working toward being financially stable, Briggs said.
When they weren’t working, Briggs said the West Baltimore family would travel together, going to places including Las Vegas, Miami, Puerto Rico and Disney World. Briggs took Eniyah on her first flight in 2019.
“I was just starting to show them how to live outside of just working all the time,” Briggs said.