BALTIMORE — More than one person is suspected of opening fire during a holiday weekend block party in Baltimore that killed two people and wounded 28 others, many of them under 18, police said Monday.
The circumstances leading up to the shooting early Sunday remained under investigation after police spent hours combing a massive crime scene in the Brooklyn Homes area in the southern part of the city. Richard Worley, Baltimore’s acting police commissioner, told reporters there were a total of 30 victims, with more than a dozen believed to be minors.
Multiple Shooters Suspected
No arrests had been made by early Monday. Worley said it wasn’t clear if the shooting was targeted or random, but he said police believe there were multiple shooters.
“We don’t know exactly how many, but we do know more than one person was shooting,” Worley said.
The shooting comes amid gatherings around the country leading up to the July Fourth holiday. A shooting in Kansas left seven people with gunshot wounds and two more victims hospitalized after being trampled as people rushed out of a nightclub early Sunday morning, police there said.
The violence in Baltimore occurred the same week federal prosecutors there touted efforts to reduce violent crime in the city. Police have reported nearly 130 homicides and close to 300 shootings so far this year, though that’s down from the same time last year. Authorities have vowed to crack down aggressively on repeat violent offenders.
Nine of Sunday’s victims were transported by ambulance and 20 walked into area hospitals with injuries from the shooting, Worley said. Nine remained hospitalized Sunday afternoon.
Details on Shooting Victims
The deceased victims were identified as 18-year-old Aaliyah Gonzalez and 20-year-old Kylis Fagbemi, police said Sunday. Gonzalez died at the scene and Fagbemi died at the hospital. The 28 injured victims ranged in age from 13 to 32, with more than half younger than 18, officials said.
Charlene Bowie, 66, who lives close to where the shooting took place, said she saw a huge crowd, largely made up of teenagers.
“They were having fun in the beginning, but you know kids … they started drinking and they was getting all out of order,” she said.
Bowie said she called the police and told her granddaughter to come inside. A little while later, they heard gunshots, and a bullet struck her air conditioner, breaking off a piece of it and hitting her granddaughter in the back. The girl was unhurt, and they both laid on the floor, Bowie said.
“Then I heard some banging on the door — boom, boom, boom, real loud — so I come down and got the door. The little girl (was) laying on my steps, shot,” Bowie said.
She said the girl, who appeared to be 14 or 15, was shot in the leg. Bowie ran inside to get a rag, then tied a tourniquet around her leg.
“I just kept talking to her so she wouldn’t get panicky, you know,” she said.
‘All They Know Is Guns’
Learning that young people were killed in the shooting was especially painful for Bowie because she lost her son, 19, and her grandson, 15, to gun violence in separate shootings years ago.
“It hurts so bad because they haven’t begun to live. They don’t even know what life is, they don’t. All they know is guns. That’s all they know, and it’s sad,” she said.
The shooting scene was nearly deserted Monday morning, with only a handful of people there, including police officers, a man in a Red Cross vest and a young man who cleaned a popcorn machine and swept away kernels before loading it into a U-Haul truck.
Gov. Wes Moore said his “heart breaks for these victims, their families, and the Baltimore community that is coping with the loss.”
“Maryland has had enough of watching gun violence continue to ravage our state and our nation,” Moore said in a statement. “The fact that these horrific shootings continue to take place is abominable. We as a state will continue to do everything we can to prevent senseless acts of violence like the one we saw last night.”
Processing the Extensive Crime Scene
It took some time for detectives to process the extensive crime scene, authorities said.
Worley said the party was “unpermitted,” so police did not know about it in advance. Some residents, however, said police had been stationed at the block party in past years. The event is held every July to celebrate the South Baltimore neighborhood, a mix of modest rowhouses and public housing.
Mel Johnson, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2011, said he had been playing cards with a friend when he heard what sounded like fireworks.
“Then something sounded different. I saw people running and screaming,” Johnson told The Baltimore Sun.
“It’s a dangerous neighborhood, especially when you got young guys and girls, and liquor,” he said.