A day after eight people were shot in Baltimore, including seven in a single incident, top officials condemned the continuing gun violence, saying it further strains resources at a time when the coronavirus is upending daily life.
Tuesday’s mass shooting took place around 6:30 p.m. when a gunman with a semi-automatic assault rifle opened fire on a group of people congregated on a street corner in West Baltimore’s Madison Park neighborhood.
An officer on patrol nearby opened fire on the suspect, police said. Investigators were continuing to determine whether he struck any of the people who were injured, though they do not believe the suspect was among the victims taken to hospitals.
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the violence — which has spiked recently after a lull to start the month — was unacceptable.
“We can not clog up our hospitals or their beds with people who are being shot senselessly because we’re going to need those beds for people who might be infected with the coronavirus,” Young said. “Put down the guns.”
City Council President Brandon Scott, meanwhile, said city officials need to be working just as hard to end gun violence in Baltimore as they are working to stop the spread of the virus. Sixty-one people have been killed in Baltimore so far this year, with another 111 people shot and wounded. Those numbers are on par with this time last year, when the city set a per capita record for homicides.
The victims in Tuesday evening’s shooting were listed as a 37-year-old woman, and six males: a 17-year-old, three 20-year-olds, a 23-year-old and a 24-year-old. All of the victims’ injuries were considered non-life-threatening.
In addition to the mass shooting, police said a 20-year-old man was shot around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Northwest Baltimore. Anthony Lewis was shot and killed in the 4900 block of Reisterstown Road.
Outside the Pedestal Gardens Apartments in Madison Park Wednesday morning, there were little signs of the shooting the night before. One strand of yellow police tape remained at Madison Avenue. Inside the apartment complex, a group of security guards with bullet proof vests chatted while several residents passed by.
Kia Grant and her 3-year-old daughter Rylee were leaving their apartment to pick up classwork for her daughters. Grant said she was home when the shooting happened Tuesday night but didn’t hear any shots because she said the family was listening to music. Grant learned of the incident when family called concerned after seeing news reports of the shooting just outside her apartment building. Outside, she said she saw a number of police officers at the scene.
Grant said she’s never experienced violence so close to home, but she shrugged it off.
“Stuff happens everywhere,” she said of the violence — and of the coronavirus that has kept her and her daughters inside. “The corona[virus] is everywhere now. Regardless of where you’re at, you’ve got to make the best of it.”
Police said they did not have a detailed description of the shooting suspect.
“People are extremely concerned about this,” said Baltimore City Councilman Eric T. Costello, who represents the neighborhood and hss heard from worried residents.
He also said the violence is particularly concerning as officials grapple with the spreading coronavirus.
“The level of violence is unacceptable and people need to put down their guns and stop jeopardizing and overwhelming our healthcare system,” Costello said.
After a relatively quiet start to the month of March, gun violence has picked up in the city, including a spate of daytime shootings.
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Two people were killed Monday afternoon in separate incidents — Sergio Jones, 28, was fatally shot in Greektown, while 30-year-old Rodricus Milligan was killed in the Govans area of North Baltimore. And on Sunday afternoon, 20-year-old Montrell Johnson was gunned down in the Brooklyn Homes area.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said Tuesday evening’s shooting was brazen, but made a point of praising the bravery of the officer who was on patrol alone and fired back. The officer has not been identified.
Ken Thompson, who heads the monitoring team that is overseeing the police department’s implementation of the consent decree reforms, said he’s waiting for additional details about the shooting.
Thompson said he hasn’t yet seen the incident report or any body-worn camera footage.
“Last night, it was so much stuff going on,” Thompson said, but he believes the commissioner may brief the monitoring team Thursday.
Members of the team have gone out to every shooting involving a police officer. Despite the ongoing concerns of the coronavirus, he said much of the work continues.
“It’s unfortunate, he said, "but this thing has hit everybody and we just have to adapt to it.”