Hours after five people were injured early Saturday morning in a shooting in Fells Point, the Baltimore Police Department set up a mobile command center in the heart of that neighborhood in an effort to avoid a similar occurrence Saturday night.
Southeast District officers were sent to investigate a reported shooting about 1:15 a.m. to the 700 block of S. Broadway. Officers, who were already in the area, found two 28-year-old women and a 27-year-old woman suffering from gunshot wounds, police said.
The three victims were taken to area hospitals for what appeared to be non-fatal gunshot injuries, according to police.
A short time later, police officers said they were sent to area hospitals to investigate a report of a 28-year-old man and a 21-year-old man seeking treatment. Investigators said they believe the two men were also shot during the Broadway incident.
Lt. Stephen Wilson said Saturday afternoon that officers will be deployed to Fells Point to “keep the peace.”
Tyree Gregory, 53, said he lives a couple of blocks away from the square. He walked up to Wilson on Saturday afternoon to say that residents had needed to see a stronger police presence the night before. There were so many people out, the 20-year resident said, that he just “got a sense something bad was going to happen.”
“Hopefully they do a better job tonight,” Gregory said.
Saturday afternoon, Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young issued a statement urging residents to avoid large gatherings and follow social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, directing city agencies and the Baltimore City Police Department to encourage the same practices.
"I am frustrated and concerned by residents failing to heed our continued warnings about the need to practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings in order to keep reducing the spread of COVID-19,” Young said in the statement. “The gatherings we are seeing — with people in close contact, with crowds of people in small spaces — could increase the spread of COVID-19. We have seen tremendous progress on bending the curve, and to see people engaging in risky behaviors at this point is incredibly disappointing — it has to stop.”
Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen was with liquor board inspectors in Fells Point at the time of the shooting, attempting to oversee “what was supposed to be the plan to have the square closed at 11 p.m.”
Lately, Cohen said, large crowds have gathered to drink alcohol at Broadway Square in the 800 block of S. Broadway, causing a public nuisance by urinating and defecating throughout the neighborhood.
“It’s a health and safety risk,” Cohen said. “I heard a number of shots and turned around to see just a very chaotic scene.”
Cohen also shared a post Saturday about the shooting on his campaign Facebook page, stating he was shaken, but unharmed.
“Thank God no one was killed,” he said in the post.
Cohen has spoken with Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, acting City Solicitor Dana Moore and Young about the incident, he said Saturday morning.
“I expressed the situation is completely intolerable and requires immediate attention,” Cohen said. “They’re working to formulate a plan. We cannot have during a global pandemic huge groups of people congregating and people being shot in a public square.”
“I share the frustrations of many in our community and local leaders over the shooting in Fells Point last night,” Harrison said in a statement. “What we saw was a gunman who had no regard for human life and fired indiscriminately on a crowd of young people. The Police Department will continue to work with other City agencies, community members, and our law enforcement partners to address gatherings of crowds throughout the city.”
Crowds gathering in Fells Point do not appear to be practicing social distancing or wearing protective face masks, Cohen said.
“We are still in a global pandemic,” he said in the post. “Large crowds are a major problem. For weeks we’ve been saying this would happen with crowds gathering drinking and driving. This cannot continue."
Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said in a statement that “residents should continue to be extra vigilant” of the virus.
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“When my team and I review the data on COVID-19 trends to provide advice and guidance on moving to different phases of reopening, we are taking into consideration how often and how many large groups of people are gathering, and what that might do to increase the transmission of the disease,” Dzirasa said. “Residents should continue to be extra vigilant and practice social distancing as they start leaving their homes and interacting with others more frequently. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of transmission of the disease and will enable us to continue our gradual reopening.”
Cohen said he is coordinating with state delegates to work with all relevant city and state agencies on addressing the problem of crowds in Fells Point.
“We simply need more out of them,” Cohen said of authorities including police. “They need to be more responsive.”
Anyone with information about Saturday’s shooting is asked to contact detectives at 410-396-2422 or leave an anonymous tip with Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCK-UP.
Baltimore Sun reporter Nathan Ruiz contributed to this article.