When Baltimore police located a stolen vehicle parked along West North Avenue late Friday morning with its doors flung open and saw people running eastward, officers quickly realized a quadruple shooting had unfolded moments earlier, marking the latest display of gun violence along the busy transit corridor that cuts through West Baltimore.
A group of suspects — officials believe three — hopped out of the stolen vehicle in the 3100 block of West North Avenue around 10:30 a.m., started shooting down the block and then carjacked another vehicle to make their escape, Deputy Police Commissioner Sheree Briscoe said at the scene. Two gunshot victims, 17-year-old Evay Henriques and 34-year-old Bartimaeus Morris, died from their injuries.
The other two are hospitalized and expected to survive: a man in his late 20s who was shot in the back and found inside a home on West North Avenue, and a 63-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the ankle.
Police believe one of the four victims was targeted because that person got into an argument with the suspects, but officials were unsure about the others.
They said one of the people with nonfatal injuries was waiting at a nearby bus stop when bullets started flying.
After the shooting, the suspects drove the carjacked vehicle a short distance, crashed into another car and fled on foot, officials said. They remained at large as police canvassed the area, officials said Friday afternoon.
One person was pronounced dead on the scene, his body lying in some bushes near an apartment building on Longwood Street, covered with a white sheet. A police dog and K-9 officer patrolled the area while a Baltimore Police helicopter circled overhead.
Police arrived almost immediately after the gunfire and carjacking because they were patrolling the area after receiving a license plate reader alert about a stolen vehicle, officials said.
Speaking at the scene Friday afternoon, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott praised their efforts.
“What we know is that our officers were doing proactive enforcement. They came upon it as the incident unfolded,” he said. “We won’t stop until we find these individuals.”
The mayor said there are too many illegal guns on the streets and too many people willing to use them in senseless acts of violence.
“We will continue to apply pressure,” he said. “Nothing should be causing people to do the things we saw today.”
The sprawling crime scene extended two blocks between North Longwood and North Ellamont streets. The 3100 block of West North Avenue, where the stolen vehicle was found, is lined with businesses, including takeout spots, barber shops and others.
Standing just feet from the body of one victim, neighbors gathered outside police lines late Friday morning, some unable to get back to their homes because of the crime tape. They were visibly shaken up, shocked that someone terrorized their neighborhood with little regard for the consequences.
Friday morning felt like deja vu for some residents after a drive-by shooting left seven people wounded, including four teenagers, at the same busy intersection last October. Some of the storefronts were damaged in the gunfire then.
Crystal Parker, who lives nearby and has long been heavily involved in community initiatives, said the shooting illustrates a host of deficiencies, including a lack of attention from public officials.
“I am tired of people just showing up for news opps. There needs to be more consistent attention to these communities,” she said. “What that means is bringing some humanity back.”
She called for more outrage from both residents and officials: Where are the anti-violence marches? Where is the public outcry?
“It’s become so normal,” she said. “We are accepting this as part of normalcy, but this is not normal. This is like war. We’re in the middle of a war and we don’t even know who the targets are.”
Parker said this affects her personally because her grandchildren can’t walk down the street and feel safe.
“It brings another level of trauma,” she said.
Scott arrived at the scene around 12:30 p.m. and spoke with police.
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The shooting perpetuates a trend that Baltimore officials have pointed to in recent months: more daylight acts of gun violence that leave multiple people injured. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison has said such incidents “speak to the brazenness … but also the cowardice” of people willing to shoot indiscriminately in public places.
Experts have said there are likely several factors driving the increase, including more people carrying guns and higher-powered firearms. Another factor could be the shifting of rules and hierarchies in the streets that once helped keep violence in check.
Adrienne Alston, who lives in the area, said she came across the crime scene as she was headed down the street to buy a sandwich on her day off.
Alston, 54, said her grandmother bought a house in the area decades ago.
“We’re in the process of selling it now — because of this,” she said, gesturing toward the yellow tape and police cars.
Kenneth Watson, 53, was on his way home from a doctor’s appointment.
“It’s terrible,” he said simply. “I just pray it’ll get better.”