Mervo High School student fatally shot on campus shortly after dismissal; suspect quickly captured

A Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School student was fatally shot at the campus in Baltimore on Friday afternoon, fewer than 20 minutes after dismissal, officials said.

Authorities quickly apprehended a suspect, a male student from another Baltimore City school, and recovered a handgun in the area.


“I did not think this was how I would be ending the first week of school,” Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises said at a news conference Friday evening.

Baltimore City School Police officers were at the school when the shots were fired and chased the suspect, officials said. Because of quick action by the police, the suspect was apprehended within seconds of the incident, Santelises said.


Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, president of the Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police, said in a written statement that the school police officers were armed and that they also retrieved the suspect’s weapon.

Boatright said in an interview that city school police officers cannot be armed during the school day, but because the shooting took place after dismissal, the officers had their weapons. He said it took “good police work” to apprehend the suspect.

“The officers were able to identify who the shooter was, identify his route of travel and chase him, recover the firearm, take him into custody without incident and render aid to the injured person,” he said.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said that shortly before 3 p.m. Friday the suspect approached the male victim in a parking lot behind the school and they got into a heated encounter before the suspect fired multiple rounds.

School police performed CPR on the victim, who was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital and pronounced dead soon afterward.

“This is an extremely tragic situation, beyond tragic, happening on the grounds of a school in the beginning of the school year,” Harrison said.

Monday was the first day of school for the city’s public school students.

Nearby residents described hearing several shots and then seeing students flee from the rear of the school on Tivoly Avenue toward a nearby bus stop at The Alameda and 35th Street.


“This is a tragedy that almost has me at a loss for words,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, who is a graduate of Mervo. “Everyone knows this is my school.”

Scott, who often touts his Mervo connections, had a prescheduled visit at the school for 3 p.m., which had been scheduled to play a home football game Friday afternoon. All after-school activities, including the game, were canceled.

“When we have this loss of life in this way, I want us all to take a moment to think about what that means for our young people ... children who are crying yet again because they lost yet another classmate,” Scott said.

Other violent incidents have taken place at Mervo and in city schools over recent years. Toward the end of last school year, two Mervo students were stabbed by a classmate at lunch.

Last March, an 18-year-old was injured in a shooting outside Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in East Baltimore. In 2015, a 17-year-old student was fatally stabbed by a classmate in the Renaissance Academy, and in 2008, a 15-year-old was fatally stabbed at William H. Lemmel Middle School.

A shooting also happened in a parking lot at Catonsville High School in Baltimore County last February, injuring a 16-year-old student. Two other Catonsville High students were charged.


Santelises said counselors were available for students and school staff on-site at Mervo, and would remain on campus to provide grief support.

“We let them know it is OK to be upset, it is OK to have to have to talk to people because this is not normal for any of us,” she said.

Grief and loss support will be available at the Weinberg Y in Waverly at 900 East 33rd St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Monday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., according to a post on Mervo’s Instagram account. Students and staff may also call Roberta’s House at 844-227-3478.

Baltimore Police investigate a fatal shooting of a Mervo High School student shortly after dismissal on Friday afternoon.

After speaking to Mervo employees, Baltimore Teachers Union President Diamonté Brown said that they hope there will be ongoing conversations on mental health services going forward. She said faculty and staff need some space, that they too are traumatized and need healing.

“Right now, of course it’s a really disappointing situation and frustrating,” Brown said. “Our heart goes out to the families.”

Democratic nominee for Baltimore state’s attorney Ivan Bates wrote in a statement Saturday that he was praying for the city and would take action.


“Every act of violence hurts to hear, but the recent shootings at Mervo High School and Marble Hall Gardens complex near Morgan State brings incredible pain to my heart,” Bates said on Twitter. “The number one focus of my administration will be on illegal guns that fuel the retaliatory cycle of gun violence in our city.”

Friday afternoon, yellow police tape blocked traffic along Tivoly Avenue at the rear of the high school, where officers and crime scene technicians were focused on a small parking lot.

The high school dismisses students at 2:35 p.m., according to an online schedule shared by Baltimore City Public Schools.

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The high school’s football team was set to host Edmondson-Westside High School at 3:45 p.m. Friday, according to an online schedule. The Mervo Mustangs won last year’s Class 4A/3A state championship, after wide receiver Elijah Gorham died following a traumatic brain injury sustained on the field.

T. Johnson, who said he graduated from the school in 1988 and didn’t want his full name used because of the circumstances, was waiting in his car near the high school to go to the football game against Edmondson-Westside when he heard about the shooting.

”It’s embarrassing. It’s sad that this school has gotten to this,” Johnson said.


Johnson said the school had been held in high regard, as students had to apply to be accepted and students were proud to go there.

”When I went here, you were scared to get into a fight” and get kicked out, he said.

After the shooting, all students were dismissed from the school and after-school activities were canceled, according to a tweet from the city school system.

Anyone information about the shooting was asked to call detectives at 410-396-2100. Anonymous tips can be sent to the Metro Crime Stoppers tip-line at 1-866-7LOCK-UP.

Baltimore Police investigate a fatal shooting of a Mervo High School student shortly after dismissal on Friday afternoon.