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Labor Day Weekend violence claims life of young mother

ShootingsHomicideAnthony BattsAnthony BarksdaleLabor DayStephanie Rawlings-Blake

Sixteen people were shot and six killed over Labor Day Weekend, a bloody stretch that claimed the life of a young mother cleaning up after a family party and prompted police to increase patrols as the violence extended into Tuesday morning.

Larelle Amos, a 22-year-old former honor student at Kenwood High School, was gunned down by a stray bullet Sunday, police said.

"She is gone and I want whoever did this gone, too, behind bars," said Amos' mother, Alisa Grinage, who has been caring for her grandson, Geron Mills II. "I won't rest until somebody is made responsible."

One-year-old Geron keeps asking for his mother. No one has figured out a way yet to tell him what happened.

Baltimore police boosted their presence in the neighborhoods where the shootings took place, and more than 300 people attended a candlelight vigil at Kenwood High to mourn Amos, a victim of Baltimore's seemingly unending pattern of violence.

The shootings come at a time of transition for the Police Department, as new commissioner Anthony Batts prepares to take over the department Sept. 27 and Acting Commissioner Anthony Barksdale winds down a brief tenure.

"What's important is the response and to quell the violence immediately," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, describing the violence as "unacceptably high." Neither Batts nor Barksdale was available for comment.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is in North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention, is getting "regular updates," according to spokesman Ryan O'Doherty. He said the police have assigned "our best detectives" to the cases.

The eastern part of the city was hit particularly hard by the violence. Seven of the shootings occurred in East Baltimore, while three took place in Northeast Baltimore. One person was shot dead on each day Saturday and Sunday. Monday — the weekend's most violent day — saw seven total shootings, four of which were homicides.

Police have not identified all of the victims and continue to determine motives. Guglielmi said that police believe the other victims from the weekend shootings were targeted. At about 11 p.m. Tuesday, police said detectives were investigating another shooting of an adult male near the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and West Hoffman Street in the city's Upton neighborhood.

Amos was shot around 2:15 a.m. Sunday after a family party in the 4800 block of the Alameda, police and family members said.

The bullet struck Amos in the chest, traveled and damaged several arteries, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital told her mother.

"She was surrounded by family at a family party," said Grinage, who is still unable to understand the randomness of the violence. "Two cars go by. Shots ring out and my daughter is hit."

Geron Mills, the father of Amos' son, told the crowd gathered for the vigil that he had planned to propose to her at the high school.

"I didn't know she touched this many people," he said in a tearful address. "This is the place where Larelle chose me and she made me very happy. She was a beautiful person."

He held up his son before the mourners and said, "This is her pride and joy."

The two were high school sweethearts at Kenwood High, where she was class president and member of the National Honor Society. She played volleyball and Mills played football.

"She was popular and active," said Grinage. "She excelled at so many things and was more mature than her years."

Amos, who worked as a teller at Sun Trust Bank in Essex, lived with her fiance and son in a Rosedale apartment. She rarely left her child in the care of anyone other than his grandmothers.

Bob Russell, coordinator of the Sports Science Academy magnet program at Kenwood High and Amos' former teacher, called her "a great kid."

"She was amazing," he said at the vigil. "She always dressed to the nines for the prom. She set the fashion for the prom."

Amos also had a younger brother, Brandon Floyd of Essex, who is a student at Chesapeake High School.

Funeral services for Larelle Amos, have been changed to 11 a.m. Monday at St. Stephen's AME Methodist Church, 1601 Old Eastern Ave., Essex. The family will receive friends for an hour before the service at the church and from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the William C. Brown Funeral Home, 321 S. Philadelphia Blvd., Aberdeen.

Guglielmi called Amos' death "extremely tragic."

"She was an innocent victim losing her life," he said. Guglielmi added that police think the gunman was targeting a person at the party. Police believe 80 to 100 people attended and hope someone will come forward with information.

Barksdale, the acting police commissioner, met with heads of violent crime impact, homicide and criminal intelligence units, along with patrol and the district commanders on Tuesday in response to the weekend violence. He also has briefed Batts.

"We're working to make sure there is no retaliatory violence," Guglielmi said.

Guglielmi said police are examining whether some of the violence is related. He said at this point, police do not believe that is the case.

Under former commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, the cornerstone of the department's crime offensive was to target the most violent of offenders responsible for a disproportionate amount of shootings, homicide and assaults. Guglielmi said the department will continue to pursue those violent offenders and those with illegal guns.

"This gun violence is absolutely reprehensible," he said.

Baltimore police have recorded 146 homicides so far this year, up from 142 this time last year, while non-fatal shootings are down from 270 last year to 249 this year.

luke.broadwater@baltsun.com

jkanderson@baltsun.com

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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