Passing motorists hit the horn, longtime friends share a hug and everyone looks for confirmation that Troy Staton has cheated death.
"I'm good! Alright?" calls out the popular barber from in front of his shop on Hollins Street in Southwest Baltimore.
When gunmen carried their beef through the doors of the New Beginnings Unisex Barbershop on Wednesday, bullets sprayed the space striking a customer in the foot and co-owner Troy Staton not once, but three times as he shielded another client.
"It was a blur. It was moving real fast, like something you might see in a movie. It was a blur image just coming through and some shots went off," said Staton, "I feel this sensation in the back of my neck. That's when I realized that I had been shot... hit a couple of time, and I told everybody that I had been hit."
Minutes passed like hours before Staton found himself at the Shock Trauma Center where a surgeon delivered the good news.
“He said, 'You've been touched by angels. You're in Shock Trauma. You have three bullets through your neck and no vital organs or anything,' and that's when he let me know, 'Your work has to push on,'" recalled Staton.
Work at a barbershop long considered a safe space in this neighborhood---where you can read a newspaper or a good book, look at a piece of artwork, get a healthcare screening or ask a candidate for political office what they stand for---all in one place.
"New Beginnings is much more than a barbershop,” said Staton, “The least of the things you can get done here is a haircut so when what occurred here---it was a violation of sacred grounds."
And that's what makes Staton's near miss a cause to celebrate.
"Boys become men at the barbershop, believe it or not, through the information that's passed on, and Troy is one of the people that pass the information on,” said longtime friend and customer Ed Curtis, “He is one of the pillars of the community. I'm grateful to have him in my life. I'm grateful to still have him."