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Staff photo by EMILY BARNESCharles County Sheriff officers investigate the scene Thursday of a homicide along Budds Creek Road.
A St. Mary's man was shot and killed Wednesday along Budds Creek Road as he traveled with family members, by a gunman who initially fired bullets into the car they were in near the county line.
Raymond Anthony Barnes Jr., a 34-year-year-old resident of Lexington Park's RiverBay community, was on his way to St. Mary's to see his two young sons when he was killed, according to their mother.
"He called [earlier] and he was coming to cut his kids' hair," Melissa Barber said, "and never made it."
Charles County sheriff's officers are searching for a Charlotte Hall man for allegedly firing a rifle at the car during an argument, striking and fatally wounding Barnes, according to police.
Investigators are working several leads to find Darnell Laquay Proctor, who police report had already left the scene of the late-afternoon shooting in Charlotte Hall when the law officers arrived.
Charles County sheriff's deputies got word at about 4:43 p.m. that day that gunshots had been heard near the intersection of Budds Creek Road and Plater Road, a sheriff's spokesperson said. When police arrived, Barnes was lying in the roadway, and two officers provided cardiopulmonary resuscitation until rescue crews arrived and took him to Civista Medical Center in La Plata, where he was pronounced dead.
"It's hard on his children because they said at first that he wasn't dead. We went up there, and he was already gone," Barber said Thursday at her Patuxent Homes residence, as 11-year-old Ramon and 7-year-old Antonio quietly stood by her side.
"I think the worst part is when they actually see him," Barber said. "That's when they're going to take it hard. They talked to him every day. He was a very good father to his children."
Investigators learned that before the shooting, Barnes and three acquaintances drove up to a Plater Road home. Proctor, who was reportedly inside the home along with a few other people, picked up a rifle, went outside and started arguing with the occupants of the Cadillac, police reported. What sparked the dispute is still unclear, according to the sheriff's office.
During the flare-up, Proctor fired at the Cadillac several times, with one shot fatally wounding Barnes, police alleged. The victim collapsed nearby, and the car's other occupants fled as the disabled Cadillac drifted away from the home, according to police. Barber said Barnes did not know his assailant.
At this point it doesn't appear that the people in the home with Proctor were involved in the dispute, but detectives are still investigating the events leading up to the shooting, according to Diane Richardson, spokeswoman for the Charles County sheriff's office. While the people in the home were still there when police arrived, investigators have developed information that Proctor fled from the home in a car, she said. The rifle allegedly used in the shooting hasn't been found, Richardson said.
Detectives have an arrest warrant for Proctor, 22, charging him with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.
Proctor is 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs 140 pounds and has black hair and green eyes. He might be armed with a gun. Court records show that in 2007, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute drugs.
Anyone with information about Proctor's whereabouts is asked to call 911 or detective S. Fetterolf at 301-609-6497. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may contact Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS or text "Charles" and a tip to CRIMES or visit www.ccso.us to submit a Web tip. Charles County Crime Solvers offers cash rewards of up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest or indictment.
Barnes moved from Charles County to St. Mary's about 10 years ago after his older son was born, Barber said, but he still had family living in the Waldorf area, including two brothers he likely was visiting before he began heading home.
Barnes worked in construction and also on people's cars that needed repairs, Barber said. "If there was something wrong with a car," she said, "he could always fix it."