After two shootings early Wednesday left six people injured by gunfire — including a double shooting that unfolded along a busy stretch of bars and restaurants in Fells Point before closing time — Baltimore residents issued a familiar plea to city officials, demanding more action to address rampant gun violence.
Baltimore Police said it’s too early to know whether the victims were intended targets. Detectives have not identified a motive or suspect in either incident.
The first shooting was reported around midnight at a Northeast Baltimore apartment complex in the 5500 block of Bowleys Lane. Police said three women, ages 38, 35 and 25, received gunshot wounds to their lower backs and were hospitalized in stable condition. A man who received similar injuries later walked into a local hospital seeking treatment for his injuries.
Residents of the Sinclair Gate apartment complex off Sinclair Lane reported hearing several gunshots and seeing a group of people trying to flee. They said some of the victims collapsed on the scene and were later loaded into ambulances.
Neighbors said several people were hanging out in the courtyard area socializing; it seemed like just a normal night until gunfire rang out.
Cierra White, who lives in the complex, said the gunshots jolted her awake. In a panic, she squeezed underneath her bed and clung to her teenage son.
“I’m petrified of staying here,” she said in the complex parking lot later Wednesday morning. “It’s a war zone.”
After recently earning her commercial driver’s license, she hopes to save enough money to buy a car, find a new apartment and leave Baltimore City.
She spent several years living in the same apartment complex as a child, and White said she vividly remembers hearing her mother scream after a taxi driver was gunned down outside their building.
Gun violence has remained a near-constant presence in her life since then. Last year, her son’s father was shot twice, leaving him in a coma. And earlier this month, her friend was killed in Baltimore’s Latrobe Homes housing complex.
“People just act like cops and robbers, like the wild, Wild West,” she said, a tear sliding down her cheek. “There are children and elderly people who live here, and we are just trying to have a normal life.”
White said she wants elected officials to pay more attention to the impacts of gun violence. She wants them to understand what it’s like for someone in her position: feeling trapped in a culture of violence and powerless to change it.
She said the problem is bigger than law enforcement and there’s only so much the police can do, partly because many residents don’t trust them. That’s why she wants people at the highest levels of government to devote more time and resources to addressing these issues.
She suggested more after-school programs for youth that would give them positive outlets and connect them with mentors. Maybe that could help young men envision a different future.
“We are prisoners in our own neighborhood,” she said. “We are scared. When will it stop?”
About an hour after the quadruple shooting outside her apartment, two people were shot around 1 a.m. in Fells Point, Baltimore’s historic waterfront neighborhood and popular nightlife destination.
Baltimore police found the victims in the 700 block of South Broadway: a man with a gunshot wound to the head, who remains in critical condition, and a woman shot in the arm.
A bullet hole was visible Wednesday afternoon 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.
The shooting occurred along a busy strip of bars and restaurants about two blocks from the water. Fell’s Point Fun Festival, a longtime annual neighborhood celebration, was scheduled for this weekend before being postponed until Oct. 28-30 because of expected inclement weather.
Residents, visitors and employees said they were unsettled by news of the recent violence. Most of the nearby bars stay open until 2 a.m.
By early Wednesday afternoon, locals and tourists strolled along the sidewalks. People were eating lunch at outdoor tables, 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.
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.
In April, a man was killed in the 1700 block of Thames Street, just blocks from the Wednesday shooting, also around 1 a.m. Weeks earlier, a patron accidentally shot himself in the leg at Choptank, a high-end fish and crab house located inside the south shed of Broadway Market.
“I think there’s just an overall exhaustion. Residents and business owners are just tired, unfortunately,” said Claudia Towles, a longtime Fells Point resident, Realtor and former business owner. “But now is the time to kick and scream — because the social and economic impacts of these violent acts are real and immediate.”
Towles, who said she’s running for the District 1 City Council seat in 2024, criticized the city’s current crime-fighting approach as too reactive and called on elected leaders to respond with more urgency when tragic events like this happen. She said the city seems to shift police resources from one problem area to another without consistently patrolling and enforcing laws.
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Ronald Johnson, a West Baltimore native, said the violence in Fells Point provides a sad reminder of the city’s intractable struggles. Johnson said he works multiple jobs so his teenage daughter can have a brighter future.
“I can’t really blame the police because the drugs came in and made things this bad,” he said. “It just like snowballed out of control.”
Later Wednesday afternoon, top Baltimore Police commanders spoke about recent efforts to curb violence, citing some progress, at a monthly City Council meeting.
Deputy Commissioner of the Operations Bureau Richard Worley said the department has served more warrants and arrested more people than this time last year — about a 12% increase in arrests, which he attributed partly to more handgun charges. He said the department recorded those numbers despite a deepening manpower shortage.
Worley said that the department deployed additional officers downtown in recent months, leading to a decrease in complaints there. But as a result, the department saw some “displacement” of crime into neighborhoods like Fells Point and Federal Hill. He said the department again adjusted by shifting resources to those areas.
After homicides increased over the summer, Worley said the city has seen positive declines — and for the first time in six months, the city’s annual homicide tally is one less than this time last year.
“We are not celebrating that number,” Worley said. “It’s still 254 [victims] but we are making some progress.”