A 2-year-old boy was shot in the stomach in Baltimore early Saturday in what Police Commissioner Michael Harrison denounced as "an act of road rage,” spurring federal officials to offer a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
The wounding of the boy is the latest incident in the city in which a young child in a vehicle is believed to have been caught in the crossfire of adults unleashing rounds around them.
“Crimes like this simply cannot and will not be tolerated in a civilized society and in a great city like Baltimore,” Harrison said. “I know that many of you share my outrage. So I’m asking as the police commissioner, as a city resident, as a father, for your help to identify and arrest the person responsible for this cowardly, violent act.”
The city’s Shot Spotter system, which captures the sound of gunfire, brought officers to the 600 block of W. Franklin St., in the Seton Hill neighborhood, at about 12:34 a.m., though they found no victims there, police said. Soon after, officers were called to an area hospital, where the boy was being treated.
Harrison said police believe the driver of the vehicle the boy was riding in had been stopped behind other vehicles at a red light. When the light turned green and the cars didn’t move, the driver “blew the horn several times,” and then drove around the other cars at the light.
Police believe that at that point, the driver of the first car at the light "followed and caught up to the victim’s vehicle, and then fired from his vehicle into the victim’s vehicle, striking the child,” Harrison said.
He said before noon Saturday that the boy was in “somewhat stable condition and is expected to survive.” He said detectives were in touch with the boy’s family.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which investigates serious gun crimes in the city, offered a $15,000 cash reward. The agency said the suspect should be considered “armed and dangerous.”
Police and ATF agents are searching for a silver Mazda MPV van in connection with the shooting. They describe the driver as a heavy-set African American male with dreadlocks.
UPDATE: Detectives believe the suspect vehicle involved in the shooting of a 2-year old child is a silver Mazda MPV. pic.twitter.com/Dz6X1u6HwG
“Violent crime and gun violence in Baltimore City affects all of our citizens, including our youngest and most innocent. What happened to this child is a terrible reality that we have seen happen too many times before," said Rob Cekada, ATF Baltimore special agent in charge. “We ask that the community join us in that fight.”
Besides calling on the public for information, Harrison appealed directly to that gunman to turn himself in and face the consequences of his actions.
“Whoever you are, please turn yourself in. You shot a child,” Harrison said. “Whoever you thought you were shooting at, you didn’t shoot. You shot a child, a 2-year-old.”
The incident calls to mind other recent shootings of children in vehicles.
In August, a West Baltimore man was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2018 shooting death of 7-year-old Taylor Hayes. Prosecutors said Keon Gray was driving a Mercedes when he engaged in a shootout with a man riding in the same Honda Accord where Taylor sat in the backseat.
In 2013, 16-month-old Carter Scott was killed while in an infant seat in the rear of his father’s car after it was ambushed by gunmen wearing masks and latex gloves. The investigation resulted in convictions of multiple men. Scott’s father, Rashaw Scott, who at one point refused to testify against his son’s alleged killers, was later killed himself in a separate shooting.
“It’s deep-rooted, where people want to settle their disputes using firearms,” many of them illegally obtained, Harrison said. “That’s a deep-rooted culture, and until we change that culture, we’re going to have problems.”
Police ask anyone with information in the shooting of the young boy to call Central District detectives at 410-396-2411 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCK-UP.
Elsewhere across the city on Saturday, a 25-year-old man was shot dead in Perkins Homes and five others were injured in shootings in Mount Vernon and East Baltimore Midway.
Through Saturday, there had been 267 homicides in Baltimore this year, compared with 241 at the same time last year. At least 625 other people have been wounded by gunfire this year, 100 more than this time last year.