BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Officer Keona Holley has only been on the Baltimore Police force for two years. It’s not unusual for people in Curtis Bay to see Holley, who’s stationed in the Southern District, multiple times a week.

“As soon as we started coming, she came in and introduced herself,” said Markis Johnson, the owner of Unlimited Bounds, a home for people with substance abuse of mental health challenges that opened in October. “If we needed anything, she was like, ‘Please let me know if you needed anything, you know I’m always here.'”

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Johnson said Officer Holley has been doing her part to challenge negative stereotypes about police officers while doing what she can to improve conditions in the Curtis Bay community.

“She always talked about how she likes to engage with a community, she wanted to be one of the individuals to help change the outlook of how people see police officers,” Johnson said.

Holley was ambushed and shot as she sat in her patrol vehicle on Pennington Avenue early Thursday morning.

The Community of Curtis Bay Association issued a statement which said in part, that the community “…stands for peace and is shaken to the core by the violence that has taken the lives of far too many this year. Waking up to the news of an officer shot just steps from our community recreation center — now hanging on to her life — brings us to the very depths of despair. Every life lost and threatened by violence pulls at the fabric that binds us all.”

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The organization then listed the names of seven people who have been killed so far this year in their small South Baltimore community.

Johnson’s Unlimited Bounds building is on the same street where Officer Holley was shot. He said when there aren’t enough opportunities to go around, people turn to crime.

“Some of the young people we work with, they lose hope by the time they’re 13, 14 years old because they don’t see any resources,” Johnson said.

A new warehouse is going up in the community. Johnson hopes it will bring jobs and hopefully stop the violence, like the shooting that has left Officer Holley fighting for her life.

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“I hope she has a full recovery,” he said. “I’d love to see her back out here doing what she does and what she committed her life to doing.”

Ava-joye Burnett