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Crime

Victim in Fells Point double shooting is server who had recently finished shift; second victim is in grave condition

A server at Duck Duck Goose, a popular upscale restaurant in Fells Point, finished her dinner shift Tuesday night and headed to a nearby bar to grab drinks with a co-worker.

It was an ordinary evening in the historic waterfront nightlife district that attracts tourists and locals alike, including many service industry employees whose work powers the neighborhood economy.

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The server stepped outside while her friend was playing pool. Minutes later, she came bursting back through the door to Lil’ Phil’s Tavern, screaming about gunfire without yet realizing she herself had been shot; the bullet passed through her arm. A man outside, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head, was hospitalized in grave condition, officials said.

The double shooting was reported around 1 a.m. Wednesday in the busy 700 block of South Broadway Street — the latest reminder of Baltimore’s senseless gun violence. Police have not said whether either victim was an intended target.

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“A young lady got shot for doing nothing more than having a drink after work in Fells Point,” said Ashish Alfred, the owner of Duck Duck Goose. “We need to be asking ourselves a real question: What are we doing? That’s not theoretical, it’s not rhetorical.

“This is America — and we’re just standing around with our hands in our pockets, watching people die.”

Instances of gun violence, which happen with routine frequency in some of Baltimore’s poorest and most disadvantaged neighborhoods, occasionally occur in touristy areas such as Fells Point. While shootings in more affluent areas often grab headlines and attention, Alfred said, the problem is the same throughout Baltimore and other American cities. He questioned why elected officials aren’t doing more to address the issue.

“Let’s all agree we have failed a generation of men and women by telling them the only way to solve their problems is to pick up guns,” he said in an interview Thursday. “But what are we doing for the next generation?”

An accomplished chef and Baltimore resident, Alfred started Duck Duck Goose Bethesda before opening the Fells Point location in 2018. He has spoken publicly about earlier struggles with trauma and substance abuse that threatened to derail his career.

“I’m a chef. I have no real knowledge of the criminal justice system other than having been disciplined by it,” he said. “But right now, it seems like we’re not doing much more than mopping up the blood.”

Duck Duck Goose owner Ashish Alfred plates a dish in 2018. “I’m a chef. I have no real knowledge of the criminal justice system other than having been disciplined by it,” he said about recent shootings. “But right now, it seems like we’re not doing much more than mopping up the blood.”

Alfred recalled something he witnessed while helping wait tables during a recent shift: He was standing near an outdoor table when he saw two kids on scooters bump into each other. One of them immediately appeared to reach for a gun. Alfred said he intervened and was able to prevent the situation from escalating. But he said the incident reinforced his sense that, unfortunately, guns are everywhere — in some cases because people want to protect themselves.

Wednesday morning’s shooting in Fells Point unfolded about an hour after a separate incident around midnight Wednesday, when four people — three women and one man — were shot outside a Northeast Baltimore apartment complex. Residents reported being terrified for their safety and outraged by the city’s apparent inability to help them escape a culture of violence they feel powerless to change.

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On Wednesday night, two teenagers were shot about a half-mile away from that scene on Moravia Road. Early Friday afternoon, a man shot a Baltimore police officer in the leg in East Baltimore’s Johnston Square.

Despite those and other shootings this week, Baltimore’s homicide rate has been slowing down after increasing through the summer.

During a City Council hearing Wednesday, Baltimore Police Department leaders cited some progress in their efforts to curb violence. For the first time in six months, they said, the city’s annual homicide tally is one less than this time last year.

Even so, Baltimore remains well on track to surpass 300 homicides for the eighth year running. The department’s 2022 homicide clearance rate is hovering around 41%, including six open warrants.

The vast majority of the killings are concentrated in majority-Black neighborhoods plagued by decades of growing poverty and disinvestment. But Alfred said violence anywhere should receive the same level of attention as gunshots in Fells Point.

“This is not a Black or white issue,” said Alfred, whose parents immigrated from India. “It’s red blood in the streets.”

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At the Broadway Street shooting scene Wednesday afternoon, a bullet hole was visible in the door of a vape shop and traces of blood still stained the sidewalk. Police said detectives were working to obtain surveillance footage from nearby businesses and identify a suspect.

By Thursday afternoon, the bullet hole had been covered with a Halloween-themed sticker depicting a cartoon pumpkin. Locals and tourists strolled past. People were eating lunch outside, enjoying the sunny fall weather and harbor views. Some were surprised to learn about the recent shooting. Others said they’ll think twice before going outside during late-night hours.

A bullet pierced the front door of the Hot Zone Tobacco & More store in Fells Point on Wednesday morning as investigators continue to talk with people about the shooting.
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Fell’s Point Fun Festival, a longtime annual neighborhood celebration, was scheduled for this weekend but postponed because of unsafe weather conditions. The new dates are Oct. 28 to Oct. 30, pending city approval.

The area has experienced instances of violence in the past, sometimes prompting outcry from businesses. In the summer of 2021, more than 30 business and restaurant owners threatened to withhold tax payments if city leaders didn’t address crime, trash and other problems.

Alfred said officials have occasionally blocked off some roads to better control traffic flow into Fells Point, but he equated those efforts to “putting a Band-Aid over a bullet hole.”

While a perception of rampant crime is bad for business, Alfred said, what happens when potential employees no longer want to work in Fells Point?

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His manager called early Wednesday to tell him about the server getting shot. Alfred said she has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. He said the woman encouraged him to speak out about the violence, though she asked not to be identified by name. She didn’t know the other victim, whom police described as an unidentified male.

“This is a young woman, a blue-collar worker who shows up in her uniform every day and serves her clients,” Alfred said, his voice becoming choked up. “She’s well-educated, well-spoken and dedicated. She has two young children she supports.

“How much more on our doorstep could this possibly get?”


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