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Parents of Shawn McGowan, who was killed in Annapolis Sunday, ask for help at town hall following shooting

Alderman Fred Paone, left, who organized the meeting, gives remarks. A town hall meeting was held at the First Baptist Church in Annapolis to discuss the violence that has been happening in the city.
Alderman Fred Paone, left, who organized the meeting, gives remarks. A town hall meeting was held at the First Baptist Church in Annapolis to discuss the violence that has been happening in the city. (Paul W. Gillespie/Capital Gazette)

Residents and city officials gathered at the First Baptist Church on West Washington Street to discuss how to prevent future shootings and improve Clay Street after Shawn McGowan was killed when an early Sunday morning party ended in gunfire.

The core of the discussion came from Jamal and Regina McGowan, addressing the audience of about 50 people. They spoke to the heavy burden they have carried since the killing of their son. They implored residents to speak up if they know anything about their son’s death, and they encouraged people to hold others responsible in their neighborhoods.

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“The culprits that did this are victims too; they are victims of their environment; until we get these guns off the street and our kids more opportunities, we won’t be the last family up here,” Regina McGowan said. “We need to go deeper into the communities. We need help. We need everyone to band together.”

Shawn McGowan died after a disagreement led to gunfire at a party on Clay Street, police have said. Three others were injured. Police have not yet arrested a suspect.

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McGowan’s death is the sixth homicide this year. The fifth, 14-year-old Camarin Wallace’s death, pushed the city past its 2019 total. Alderman Fred Paone, R-Ward 2, called the town hall following the shooting as Clay Street is in his district.

Jamal McGowan spoke about how growing up in the area of Clay Street, people were held responsible in their neighborhoods and at home.

“We need the old ways to come back; if you seen something, say something,” said McGowan. “We are all family and need to stop fighting each other; this needs to end.”

Police Chief Ed Jackson and State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess implored residents with information to come forward to help solve this murder.

“It was absolutely terrible, and the community needs to know that we care, and we want them to help us find who did this,” Leitess said. “Just call the police; you don’t have to give a name.”

An audience member asked Jackson about the city’s plan to prevent future crimes.

“We have to attack the social issues that are in high poverty areas. We need to give these areas more resources,” Jackson said. “We need more workers that are going to give people help. When people get out of correctional facilities, we are not offering them any help, and that needs to change.”

Jackson also admitted that Clay Street was off the police department’s radar because there hasn’t been violence in a long time.

Carl Snowden, an Annapolis resident and longtime civil rights activist, said any promises must be kept.

“Promises made have not been promises kept. We want the promises made tonight to be kept,” Snowden said. “The promises in the past of Clay Street (being) treated like any other community in the city, that has not happened. We want commitment to all communities (of) being treated equally.”

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley attended the meeting as well. He told residents the city was committed to investing in Clay Street and other areas. He mentioned the city’s plans to build the Robert Eades Park across from Morris H. Blum Senior Apartments.

Eades died in August after contracting COVID-19. Eades lived on Pleasant Street, just off Clay Street.

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Police urged anyone with information to call detectives at 410-260-3439 or to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP and submit an anonymous tip. If your tip leads to an arrest or indictment, you may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $2,000, police said.

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