Baltimore police vowed Wednesday to work “around the clock,” to solve the killings of two city 15-year-olds who were gunned down a week apart.
Police identified the 15-year-old boy shot on the street in Baltimore Highlands Tuesday as Jhosy Portillo, who was gunned down on the 1400 block of East Baltimore shortly before 2 p.m. A week earlier, 15-year-old Ja’Nyi Weeden was killed on the 3700 block of Gelston Drive in Edmondson Village.
During a news conference, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison addressed the recent killings of two teenagers in recent weeks, demanding for answers from the community.
“It’s absolutely horrible to see anybody shot, especially two 15-year-olds and especially back-to-back,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at a news conference Wednesday in which prosecutors announced indictments charging a criminal gang with unrelated murders.
”We’re angry about it. Our teams are working around the clock” on the cases, Harrison said. “My message, really, a demand more than a message, is anybody who knows anything about either one of these crimes is call us right away.”
Alex Piper, 15, said he and Portillo had been best friends since they were five-years-old, and attended Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School #237.
He worries that someone else put his friend in an unsafe situation and wishes he was there when it happened.
“We best friends, we argued and we solve it out,” Piper said. “I wish they had a video of it so I can see what happened. I think he could have survived.”
Piper was at the scene of the shooting on Wednesday where a memorial had been set up — candles surrounded by flowers, balloons and a sign honoring the teenagers life.
“Highlandtown #237 loves you forever, rest in peace sweet Jhosy,” read one post, signed by several teachers at Portillo and Piper’s school.
An employee of a business near where the shooting happened said she was at her desk when the fatal shots were fired.
She recorded a video of police and local ambulances arriving on the scene as paramedics tried saving the boy’s life.
“I just saw the guy there that was bleeding and then police told me I had to close the store for the day,” she said, while declining to give her name, deciding to remain anonymous for safety concerns.
“I did not see anything because I was on my phone but I just noticed when the ambulance came and a lot of people were screaming.”
Portillo’s killing came one week after Weeden, a 15-year-old was shot in Edmondson Village. She died days later.
On Wednesday, Tabitha Gary, Ja’Nyi Weeden’s mother, sat inside her home with several of her family members in the Callaway-Garrison neighborhood. Balloons offering condolences and well-wishes sat near a window.
Gary said her daughter was a sophomore at Carver Vocational Technical High School and wanted to go to college in Atlanta at Spelman. She was interested in doing people’s hair, her mother said.
Her mother remembers their great moments together and spoke of how focused she was on her schoolwork and career aspirations.
“She had her own small business that she would do on the weekends. Some of her friends just went to college this year and she said she was excited for them and couldn’t wait until it was her turn,” Gary said.
Police believe there were a large crowd of people at the time and someone shot into the crowd on Aug. 10, striking Weeden. Gary said she has not gotten any details, but detectives have told her they are working the case.
Ja’Nyi left behind three brothers and one sister.
“Honestly it is just truly sad and heartbreaking. The violence among these kids today is outrageous,” Gary said. “It is sad that they are so angry that they act off of impulse and make a decision in a split moment that could change not only the person lives that they hurt, but their lives to,”
“I don’t understand where they are getting all these guns from and how they are getting their hands on them to commit these acts of violence. My heart is shattered and it is really sad to see young people losing their lives at a high rate.”
Also Wednesday, police announced details on several other recent homicides. On Tuesday around 2 p.m. Eastern District patrol officers were called to a home in the 1400 block of Aisquith St. in the Oliver neighborhood to check the well-being of a resident. When officers arrived, they found a 45-year-old man with signs of trauma to his body, police said.
The man was pronounced dead on the scene and homicide detectives are investigating.
Police also announced that a 32-year-old man who was shot Tuesday has died at an area hospital. The unidentified victim was shot in the 2000 block of W. Pratt St.
Additionally, police identified several other victims killed in recent days.
Anthony Pernell Neveille was killed on Aug. 12 in the 2300 block of Tioga Parkway. Steven Savoy, 52, was killed on Aug. 14 while in the 2000 block of Maryland Ave.
A day later, Mickel Holman, 20, was killed on Aug. 15 while in the 200 block of W. Baltimore St.
Anthony Bugg, 29, was killed on Aug. 15 in the 2100 block of W. Patapsco Ave. and 24-year-old Rashad Marshall was killed on the same day in the 400 block of W. Belvedere Ave.
Homicide detectives are asking anyone with information to contact them at 410-396-2100.