Neil Davis was charged with attempted first-degree murder and firearm violations in Friday’s shooting, which left a 56-year-old school employee in serious condition.
Davis had already been in detectives’ sights before the Douglass shooting, and he was also linked to the killing Nov. 10 of Darelle Yancey, according to police. Yancey, 25, was shot and killed in the 4600 block of York Road, police said.
Matt Jablow, a police spokesman, said ballistics evidence collected at the scene of the school shooting was part of the investigation that led to the murder charge in the November case. He confirmed Saturday that homicide detectives had already identified Davis as a suspect in the November case and were in the process of drafting a search warrant for his home when the shooting at Douglass occurred.
When detectives heard that Davis had been arrested in the school shooting and that officers had taken a semi-automatic handgun off of him, they requested that the gun be sent for ballistics testing immediately. When the ballistics from the two shootings matched, detectives had another key piece of evidence and brought the case to the state’s attorney’s office, which signed off on the charges, Jablow confirmed.
The victim in Friday’s shooting, identified by city school district officials as Michael Marks, was in serious but stable condition and undergoing treatment Saturday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
No students were injured during the incident.
Efforts to reach Marks — a former assistant coach for boys varsity basketball at Douglass — were unsuccessful.
George Johnson III called Marks a “good guy” who works to make a difference in the lives of kids in the city. Johnson, a teacher who lives in the Belair-Edison neighborhood, said he met Marks playing pick-up games of basketball at Druid Hill Park.
“He has a good relationship with teenagers,” said Johnson, who teaches at an alternative school in Baltimore County. “He is a well-liked and respected guy.”
Having a mentor like Marks is key, especially for young men being raised by single mothers, Johnson said. Marks can help young people think through the consequences of their actions, be a voice of reason and someone who can share wisdom.
“Guys like him are instrumental,” Johnson said.
Terrell Dantzler, a star player for the 1996-97 undefeated Southwestern team that won a state championship and is now an assistant coach at Edmondson, called Marks a mentor. Marks was the junior varsity coach and helped coach the varsity team as well.
Marks “helped me transition when I was at Southwestern because I was coming from East Baltimore to West Baltimore and I didn’t know too many people at Southwestern,” Dantzler said. “He was one of the first guys that put his arms around me and helped guide me.
“Basketball-wise, he helped my game. He’d be with me at the gym and play me 1-on-1 to help work on my game, to push me when he saw things my game needed help with.”
Tina Queen, who worked with Marks at both Southwestern and Douglass, where she had been the athletic director, said, “We needed as many positive male influences that we could get at Southwestern. We were a [Class] 4A school and we had a lot of different personalities on our team from a lot of different neighborhoods and Mr. Marks was able to relate to a lot of the children.
“He knew a lot of them because, on his own time, he did a lot of training at Druid Hill Park with the kids, at Cloverdale. He ran basketball camps for free, he officiated. He just did so much for the youth in that community, and it’s a community that he’s from. So it’s not an outsider coming in, this is someone who’s from the neighborhood.”
Queen, who is now athletic director at Reginald Lewis, added that “the kids really looked up to him and they respect him. And he’s a great ball player — even at 56 years old, he’s in great shape and still gets up and down the floor with these kids.”
Johnson, who has also taught in city schools, said the incident should reignite the debate over allowing school police to carry guns during the school day.
That’s a position for which the president of the school police union, Sgt. Clyde Boatwright, also advocates. The Baltimore school board reaffirmed their position against allowing the school police officers to carry their service weapons during the school day in a unanimous vote last month.
School police can carry guns while patrolling the exterior of a school before and after the school day, but they must store their weapons while classes are in session.