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‘We’ve lost love’: 17-year-old shot near where 14-year-old was killed day before makes three shootings in four days

A 17-year-old boy was shot in the leg Tuesday night in the same community where a 14-year-old boy was killed less than 24 hours earlier, Annapolis police said.

Alonzo Croaker was driven to shock trauma in Baltimore, said Cpl. Dave Stokes, a spokesman for the department. After sustaining one gunshot to his leg, Stokes said Croaker was believed to be in stable condition Wednesday.

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The latest shooting occurred around 8 p.m. in the Annapolis Gardens neighborhood, Jackson said. It’s right around the corner from where Jackson and half-a-dozen of the city’s elected officials had been about two hours earlier updating the community and media on the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Camarin Wallace, which occurred the night before.

News of the violence shocked elected officials who’d been in the area not long before it happened. It left leaders searching for answers after surpassing the homicide total of 2019 and experiencing the third shooting in about as many days. Three people were shot in one incident early Sunday morning on Forest Drive.

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“Three shootings in four days,” said Sen. Sarah Elfreth, a Democrat representing Annapolis in the state Senate. “It’s devastating for everybody who lives in those communities and feels unsafe.”

Elfreth said the county’s crisis response team had been deployed to the community Wednesday and were slated to host a meeting around 6 p.m. for residents and others impacted by the violence to talk about their feelings and cope with the trauma. She recalled children on bicycles or hovering around a playground Tuesday as elected officials and police brass discussed the killing of someone about their age.

“I think those kids need a lot of support at this time,” she said.

Jackson said late Tuesday night that details about the latest shooting were still sparse, but “we have every reason to believe that this is connected” to the homicide a night earlier.

“We are not releasing any information at this point that would connect the two shootings,” Stokes said Wednesday. “It’s just so early on in the investigations.”

No other people had reported injuries, police said.

Scores of people crowded the community in the early evening, many congregating around one playground and the balloon memorial erected there in Camarin’s memory.

Elected and community leaders pleaded at a press conference that the community come forward with information that could lead to justice for Camarin’s family, who remembered him as a teenager with a big smile who loved sports and video games. School officials said Camarin had just finished at Bates Middle School and was slated to begin his freshman year at Annapolis High School in the fall.

Camarin was gunned down in the 1800 block of Bowman Court and lived about a block down the street on Bowman Drive. Calls about a shooting came in around 7:45 p.m., police said.

Pastor Sheryl Menendez was at Camarin’s house helping guide his family through grief before gunshots rang out again. She said she’d driven off about 15 minutes before she received the news: another shooting. She was devastated and said she couldn’t sleep.

“We’ve lost love. We don’t love anymore,” Menendez said. “When you can take someone’s life, love is gone.”

Worse yet, Menendez said she doesn’t think the violence will stop, citing some factors attributable to the coronavirus pandemic and others to mental health concerns.

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Menendez, who’s been a champion for children and families in Annapolis and Northern Anne Arundel County for decades, said unsettled issues have lingered in communities for generations and weigh on today’s children. “Do we have enough mentors? Do we have enough people who can mentor the parents?”

“It’s going to continue until you get all sectors together,” Menendez said: Government, community, church, business, education, health and police.

But still leaders like Elfreth and Alderman DaJuan Gay, D-Ward 6, are looking at how to meet the demands of today’s unprecedented dilemma. Both discussed a lack of activities to keep children occupied over the summer, the struggles of not having the social structure and resources of school, and keeping plans for long-term, systemic change on track.

“We’re kind of building the plane as we fly it,” Elfreth said. But, she assured, “those conversations are happening.”

Around 10 p.m. Tuesday Jackson and Stanley Branford, who heads the department’s cold case unit and was the commander of the Baltimore Police Department’s homicide division, arrived at the scene.

“I’m going to oversee this investigation personally,” Jackson said.

Police encourage anyone with information to contact detectives at 410-260-3439 or if they wish to remain anonymous, leave a tip with Metro Crime Stoppers by dialing 1-866-7LOCKUP.

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