After seven people, including three teenagers, were shot outside a downtown hookah lounge early Sunday morning, Baltimore leaders are again looking for answers to stem what police are calling a “brazen” level of violent crime.
Two unidentified men — one armed with a rifle and the other, a handgun — approached a crowd of people standing in line outside the iVilla Hookah Lounge at 225 Park Ave. around 1:45 a.m. and opened fire, striking and wounding seven people, Baltimore police said.
The shootings came in the middle of a violent 24-hour stretch that included three fatal shootings in East Baltimore, but, in a nation grown too accustomed to such mass shootings, it scarcely registered in the national attention. In Chicago, moments before the Baltimore shooting, 13 were shot in a home on the south side of that city.
Elsewhere in Baltimore, a woman was shot to death late Sunday afternoon in a Patterson Park deli, following the Saturday evening shooting deaths of a woman in a McElderry Park hair salon and, three hours later and not far away, of a 21-year-old man. All three shootings were within a handful of blocks of one another.
"The level of violence late into this weekend is completely unacceptable,” said Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young in a Sunday afternoon statement.
Police had made no arrests as of Sunday evening and offered few details about each of the deadly shootings.
Baltimore Police Col. Richard Worley called the Baltimore gunmen in the downtown shooting “brazen" and said it spoke to the overall criminal culture in the city.
“I think it’s the same thing that the commissioner [Michael Harrison] has been saying all along. The criminals are just brazen,” he said. “This guy gets out of a car with a rifle, not even a handgun, walks up the street and just opens fire on a line of people.”
Responding officers found a 20-year-old man with gunshot wounds to his shoulder and hip, an 18-year-old man shot in both legs, a 27-year-old man with a wound to his arm, and a 17-year-old boy shot in the back and leg. The victims were taken to area hospitals for treatment. An additional three people — a 22-year-old man with a gunshot wound to a finger, a 17-year-old boy shot in an arm and another person — checked themselves into area hospitals.
Worley said the two shooters were with another man and a woman who did not shoot but who are considered suspects in the shooting.
The four suspects originally pulled up and parked a blue car on Saratoga Street nearby, Worley said, before the two shooters approached the crowd and fired at least 19 rounds.
Police later recovered the suspect’s vehicle in South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood after it had been set on fire, Worley said.
Police have not determined a motive and Worley said none of those who were shot have spoken to police about potential suspects. All police have, Worley said, are physical descriptions of the suspects.
“We have no idea why they opened fire on a whole line of people,” Worley said.
Baltimore police offered even fewer details about the fatal shootings.
On Sunday evening, 35-year-old Carmen Rodriguez died after she was shot in the Kim Deli & Grocery on the 100 block of N. Kenwood Ave., Baltimore police said.
Police responded to a report of a shooting at 5:25 p.m., and medics pronounced her dead at the scene.
A day earlier, Destiny Harrison died after she was shot inside the Madam D Beauty Bar at 241 N. Milton Ave.
Col. Sheree Briscoe said one or more suspects entered the salon around 6 p.m. Saturday while other people were there and shot the woman.
Police declined to provide further details about that shooting Sunday despite rampant discussion about it on social media.
“I know that there is a conversation happening out [on] social media. That is not the investigative conversation,” said Briscoe, declining to address a growing number of online rumors about the incident.
About three hours later, police found 21-year-old Daniel Powell shot in the torso in the 500 block of N. Linwood Ave. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The latest shooting deaths bring the city’s homicide count to 336 in 2019, up from 309 in all of 2018. That’s just seven homicides away from the five-year high of 342 victims reached in 2017 and 2015.
Outside the iVilla Hookah Lounge, the scene had been cleaned up mostly by Sunday morning. Still, as Major Livingston walked along the sidewalk in front of the business, he stopped to survey the blood spatters.
Livingston heard the gunshots from the room he was staying in at the nearby La Quinta.
“We need to stop it,” he said. “Can we just stop the violence here?”
Young, in his statement, said the city has teams of officers working nonstop to identify suspects and bring the shooters to justice.
“We can never get to a place where this type of bloodshed becomes normal," Young said. "All of Baltimore stands committed to eliminating these horrific acts of violence. I beg anyone who might have information about these latest shootings to please reach out to the police. We must work together to end senseless shootings in our City. I’m also asking all of Baltimore to continue to pray for the victims and their friends and families.”
Joyce Green, president of the Central District Police Community Relations Council, criticized Commissioner Michael Harrison, saying, “I don’t see him being effective at all.”
Breaking News Alerts
She said hookah bars should be required to close at 2 a.m. like liquor bars and called for stiffer sentences for those convicted of multiple weapons offenses.
She also called for more patrol officers, saying the department is “911 based,” largely becoming a reactive force than a proactive one.
“You can’t expect to make a crime plan when you don’t have enough staff to make it work,” Green said. “If they had patrol officers on the streets to do it, we wouldn’t have the problems we have now.”
In a statement earlier in the afternoon, City Council President Brandon Scott wrote that the weekend’s violence “undermines our faith in Baltimore ever being a safe, secure place where children and adults can live and grow.”
“We must focus on arresting the most violent offenders,” Scott wrote. “We must be committing every bit of BPD’s resources — every officer, every unit, every task force — to reducing violent crime.”
Police ask anyone with information to contact them at 410-396-2411 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7Lockup.
Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.