The 25-year-old Baltimore man charged in the shooting of a Frederick Douglass High School special education assistant on Friday had come to the school to confront the staffer about disciplining his family member who is a student there, according to charging documents.
Neil Davis is charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Michael Marks, a 56-year-old former assistant basketball coach. In the charging documents, police said Davis asked to speak to Marks then “became hostile and asked why he was yelling” at his relative and opened fire.
The shooting at Douglass is the latest violent incident in which Davis has been charged, according to police and court records. In addition to Friday’s school shooting, Davis was charged Friday in the fatal Nov. 10 shooting of his cousin, Darelle Yancey, also 25, who was found by officers shot in the 4600 block of York Road in North Baltimore.
Police already had linked Davis to Yancey’s killing, and rushed ballistics testing on the gun used in the Douglass shooting. The ballistics matched.
Charging documents also show Davis previously served a three-year sentence for slashing his 8-year-old cousin’s throat in January 2015.
“He shouldn’t have been out here after the first time,” said Sherell Yancey, the mother of the 8-year-old and Darelle Yancey. “Hopefully justice will be finally served,” she said on Monday at her East Baltimore home.
She said her son did not deserve what happened to him. Yancey also said her daughter is still struggling with her attack and the loss of her older brother.
At a hearing Monday morning related to the latest charges against Davis, a judge ordered him held without bail. Davis did not have an attorney listed in online court records related to the Nov. 10 homicide or Friday’s shooting at Douglass.
Shannon Griffin, Davis’ mother, said she did not condone the shooting at Douglass, but said the incident unfolded after the family complained repeatedly to school staff about how Marks treated their relative.
“This has been ongoing and nothing has been done. Everything kept getting swept under the carpet,” Griffin said of the family’s concerns. “It didn’t just randomly happen, it was building up.”
Marks, who had been shot twice in the right torso, was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center for treatment. He could not be reached for comment Monday.
Before the shooting at Douglass, a Baltimore School Police officer had been asked to help a principal deescalate an argument between Davis’ relative and another student, charging documents said.
While the students were still meeting inside the school office, the pop of gunshots came from the school’s main entrance nearby.
“He has a gun,” Marks told the responding officer, while still struggling to disarm Davis. “I think I may have been shot.”
Davis had come into the school asking for “Coach Marks,” which is how students refer to the special education assistant, police said. When Marks identified himself, Davis “became hostile and asked why he was yelling” at his relative, Marks told police.
“Mr. Marks tried to explain that he was disciplining [the student] for being in the hallways during class and trying to fight other students,” the charging documents said.
“All the while Mr. Davis continued to fire the handgun,” the report said. “Mr. Marks was struck a second time in his right torso area before successfully disarming Mr. Davis and holding him until officers could take him into custody.”
After Davis was detained, police found a .40 caliber handgun on the floor and five shell casings inside the school’s main entrance.
Davis faces more than a dozen charges, including attempted murder, assault and several gun violations, in the incident.
Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, praised Marks for disarming the suspect — despite already having been shot — before anyone else could be hurt.
“Mr. Marks is a hero, I would say, because it could have been worse,” she said.
The teachers’ union already had convened a school safety task force after three incidents of students assaulting teachers in the fall.
But Friday’s shooting at Douglass, she said, highlighted a separate problem — sometimes family members of disciplined students come to the school, undermine the authority of school officials, and, in some cases, take matters into their own hands.
“We have had incidents of parents coming to school who have attacked administrators,” English said. “We haven’t had as many attacks on teachers as administrators. But it does happen.”
The teachers’ union president said she is gathering information still about the shooting. She plans to go to the school Tuesday, once classes resume, to offer the staff whatever assistance she can.
No teacher or other staff member should have to worry about whether a normal interaction with a student will end in that child’s family member bringing a gun to school, English said.
“It was wrong for him to come into that building with a weapon to inflict harm on a staff member who just gave a direction,” she said. “We should not be fearing that.”
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No students were injured during the incident.
After Davis’ arrest in the school shooting, police said, detectives quickly charged him with Yancey’s killing.
Detectives interviewed witnesses and reviewed multiple surveillance camera systems nearby that connected Davis with that shooting, the charging documents said. Witnesses told police they had seen Yancey walking with only one other man when then heard a “pop” and saw Yancey fall to the ground. Witnesses said the suspect had been wearing a blue book bag, jacket and was carrying a hat, which matched a suspect caught on video, police said.
The description of the suspect’s clothing matched clothing Davis wore in pictures posted to his Facebook page, police said.
A family member who was not identified in the documents said Davis shot Yancey out of a desire to protect a younger family member.
In an earlier incident in January 2015, police said Davis followed Darelle Yancey’s younger three siblings as they walked from their home to school, asking where he could find Darelle Yancey, but his siblings told Davis they did not know where to find their oldest brother. The siblings told police Davis then grabbed the little girl and cut her across the neck.
Davis was charged with attempted first-degree murder and other offenses, and was convicted of second-degree assault and deadly weapon with intent to injure. He was sentenced to three years in January 2015.