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Crime

West Baltimore neighbors lament shooting at cookout that killed one, injured seven

The block in West Baltimore where a gunman opened fire on a Sunday afternoon cookout was quiet Monday morning, though bloodstains on the sidewalk served as reminders of a chaotic crime scene the day before.

The shooting just after 5 p.m. left a 28-year-old man dead and seven people injured after a gunman opened fire on a neighborhood cookout at Edmondson and Whitmore avenues. A 58-year-old man, a 51-year-old man, a 30-year-old man, a 30-year-old woman, a 29-year-old man and two 27-year-old men were treated at hospitals for non-life-threatening injuries.

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Police had not identified a suspect or motive as of Monday, though they described him Sunday as a black man.

A man who said he attended the cookout said 30 some people turned out for the neighborhood get-together. The man, who declined to give his name, said they scattered when gunshots rang out.

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Other neighbors lamented the shooting, even though they didn’t witness it. LaSharon Sherman wasn’t home when the shooting occurred, but she said she was alerted about the incident through her Citizen mobile app, which alerts users to nearby crime.

Analysts for the app collect information from police scanners and other public sources to provide users with real-time alerts about crimes and other emergency situations in their areas. The app was one way, in addition to social media and news reports, in which misinformation about the location of the shooting, number of victims and suspect description spread Sunday.

Initially, rumors about a shooting inside a church — then, near a church — ran rampant on social media. The shooting scene was a block from both the Perkins Square Baptist Church and the Doswell Cathedral Church of God in Christ, and it sits within blocks of several other churches. The church-shooting narrative perpetuated international headlines Monday.

An incorrect description of the suspect also was shared. The Citizen app reported the shooter was a white man, about 5 feet 8 inches, wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

Hours later, police described the suspect as a black man. That information was added to Citizen’s list of updates, though the original post listing an incorrect description of the shooter remained in the previous comments.

Citizen updates the platform to correct information that is mischaracterized, Citizen spokesman Peter Donald said, and the app updated the original post to reflect the latest description Monday after questions from The Baltimore Sun.

“What we’re trying to do is get the right info to the right people at the right point in time — and is that always successful? No, we’re human,” Donald said. “We’re proud of how we try to get people out of harm’s way.”

Baltimore Police spokesman Matt Jablow said he hasn’t had any contact directly with Citizen since the app became available in Baltimore in February.

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Sunday’s incident illustrated the police department’s frustration in communicating information and correcting inaccurate reports as situations are evolving.

“It’s a good example of just how I think the public at large is not really well-served by this rush to be first online with information, be it by Citizen app or traditional news organizations. I just don’t think it’s healthy,” Jablow said. “I just think it’s better served when we are allowed to do our jobs, take our time, provide accurate information in a timely manner.”

The neighborhood where Sunday’s shooting occurred, known officially as Rosemont Homeowners/Tenants, has had at least one other fatal shooting this year. A 25-year-old man, Jawan Armstrong, was shot to death on the same block March 14.

Sherman, who has lived in the area since 1952, said Sunday’s shooting was a symptom of the area’s evolution.

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“I’ve seen the neighborhood change so much, and you know, shootings are everywhere,” she said. “It’s changed because we have a lot of vacant houses now, because people have died out. … It’s not a whole lot of, you know, neighbors to really say, ‘Hey … you can’t do this in my neighborhood.’”

Terrell Fuller, who works as a nurse in a community clinic, is among the area’s newer residents. She moved to Baltimore from New York a year ago to a house around the corner from the shooting scene.

“There’s a shooting almost every other week,” Fuller said. “The church around the corner here does more funerals than you would believe.”

Fuller said she’s witnessed a lot of hopelessness and anger through her work in the community.

“Being a New Yorker, we’re supposed to be one of the most aggressive people there are,” Fuller said. “There’s a lot of aggression in this state and it’s bigger than what I’ve seen in New York.”

Still, she said she’s hopeful for her neighborhood’s future.

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“It’s so much room for something great to take place here,” Fuller said. “I believe in promise because everywhere you look you see something happening. So it’s gonna come. It’s just who is gonna help facilitate it, that’s the problem.”


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