A 22-year-old man was shot and killed Saturday afternoon on a Waverly street two days after an elderly man was gunned down a few blocks away, prompting neighborhood turmoil and vows from police to bolster patrols in the area.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the increase in uniformed and undercover officers in the neighborhood would begin Saturday night after the violence had business owners anxious about safety and how the crimes would hurt commerce. The shooting occurred just two blocks from a popular city farmers market that hours earlier was filled with shoppers enjoying the spring weather and the beginning of their weekend.
"Greenmount is suffering right now. The city needs to step up," said Casey Jenkins, owner of the Darker Than Blue Cafe and president of the business merchants association. "What can I say about two murders in 72 hours?"
Jun Park, an employee at Beauty Lane, said he was surprised at the timing of the shooting.
"I know many issues can happen at night, but I was shocked" by the daytime violence.
The latest victim was chased out of the Friendly Fried Chicken carryout and was shot in the Osprey gas station parking lot at Greenmount Avenue and 33rd Street, Guglielmi said. Saturday's killing was the fourth within the Charles Village Community Benefits District this year.
A fight erupted in the restaurant and spilled onto the street about 2 p.m. The shooting victim, whose name was not released, was shot multiple times, including once in the head, and died in the parking lot, Guglielmi said.
Police are looking for at least two people, he said, but no motive has been determined. Police did not think this shooting and the one two days before were related and were reviewing city surveillance footage of the incident.
In the wake of the second shooting, Guglielmi said police had already increased their presence in the area, but the department now wants "a cop on every corner," adding that the neighborhood "has been a priority for us."
Saturday's shooting occurred two blocks from the 32nd Street farmers' market and two hours after shoppers had picked out the last of the produce. A mix of neighborhood residents, students from nearby Johns Hopkins and other visitors were crowding sidewalks between the different shops and restaurants, enjoying the warm weather.
The 22-year-old man was shot two days after Charles Bowman, a security guard at the Afro-American newspaper, was shot and killed during a robbery at the Yau Bros. carryout in the 2900 block of Greenmount Ave.
"It's a shock, just 72 hours ago I was quoted [that] I thought the police were doing a fine job," Jenkins said. With the second shooting this week, he said he was questioning policing efforts.
Shootings so close together will hurt businesses and the surrounding neighborhood, Jenkins said. He was out walking on Greenmount Avenue, speaking with other business owners after the violence. He said Saturday is usually busy with residents as well as shoppers from other areas.
"This is the main street of north Baltimore," said councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, whose north-central district includes Waverly. "We have a vibrant community, and in recent weeks we have been plagued by violence that we are not used to. We will not tolerate it."
She said she has asked for the police commissioner's help in the Northern District "to quell the violence."
The added police presence comes at a time when a grim spending proposal seeks to layoff 120 police officers and disband several police units, including the helicopter and mounted police, to help close a $121 million gap in the $2.2 billion city budget.
"Baltimore remains a violent city," said Robert F. Cherry, police union president. He said that despite Baltimore's decreasing homicide rate, when compared with other cities of similar size, problems remain. "Don't tell us the city is safe ... shutting down the police department is not the answer."
Although several businesses, including a Payless ShoeSource store and a restaurant selling lake trout and fried chicken, were taped off behind the police line Saturday, many passers-by continued with their shopping, occasionally stopping to look at the scene. Some were upset they could not get to their favorite restaurant, restricted by the yellow tape.
Jenkins, however, had already begun to worry about the long-term effects of the recent violence. He said many of the 126 businesses in the association rely not only on residents, but also on those that travel into the neighborhood from the rest of the city and Baltimore County.
"I'm about to take a real hit on business," Jenkins said.
His own restaurant has made Baltimore Magazine's Top 50 restaurant list and draws many hungry city and county residents into the neighborhood that's trying to change its image.
"When it happens in broad daylight like this — it definitely scares people," said Jim Lee, manager of the Tobacco Outlet, which is in the same block as Saturday's shooting.
Lee, who stood behind plexiglass, said Saturday is his best day for business and that after the shooting, he had customers "running in, crying," after the shots were fired. Since the afternoon violence, he said it's definitely been slower.
Across the street at Herman's Discount Inc., which displayed brightly colored flip flops in the storefront display, manager Ricky Herman said Saturdays tend to busy. But he worried about the impact of the recent violence, which had already had a direct effect on his business. Bowman had been one of his customers.
Herman, however, was optimistic about the neighborhood's turnaround, saying with help from the city and residents, "I think we can get through this. It's a very strong neighborhood. It's very resilient."