A 32-year-old man was fatally shot inside a Fells Point bar early Friday morning in what Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said was “not a random incident.”
The shooting happened just after midnight at the Blarney Stone Pub in the 700 block of S. Broadway, while Thursday’s crowds lingered in the bars and restaurants of the Baltimore neighborhood known in part for its colorful nightlife.
Police said that the victim, whose name was not released, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Investigators know of a suspect, police said, and, around 2 p.m. Friday, a large police presence, including an armored vehicle and agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, swarmed the area of Chester and Fleet streets. Todd Edwards, a spokesman with the Baltimore DEA field office, said the agency’s agents were assisting city police with an operation related to the fatal shooting.
An officer on the scene said they were serving a warrant at the Get It Inn 2, a Jamaican restaurant at 2112 Fleet St.
Police shut down a block of Fleet Street near the restaurant from Essex Street to Cambridge Street while the warrant was being served. Neighbors and nearby workers said they saw tactical units surround the building.
Calls to the restaurant went unanswered Friday evening.
Lindsay Warrick, an employee of Lik Dancewear, two doors down from Get It Inn 2, said she and two customers were barricaded inside the store for 30 to 45 minutes.
“It was terrifying. Oh my goodness, I was sweating bullets,” she said. “I thought one of them was joking when they said, ‘Oh, we can’t leave.’”
Tuggle said at a news conference earlier Friday that police believe the victim knew his assailant.
The victim was seen in an argument with another person, which was carried outside and then back into the bar where the shooting occurred, Tuggle said, adding that residents in the area should not feel unsafe.
“People should just go about their daily lives,” he said.
Claire Cooper said early Friday morning she only recently left the pub and was on her way back there when the shooting happened.
“I love that bar,” she said.
But a man advised her that the area had been blocked off, so she ducked into the DogWatch Tavern instead and sipped a beer as the rain poured down.
DogWatch bartender Matt Harr, 27, was rattled by the news, saying he was worried about the staff at the Blarney Stone Pub. “Fells Point is very family, so we watch out for each other,” he said.
Harr was recently held up at gunpoint while walking home from work; ever since then, a bartender at the Blarney Stone Pub began waiting around to drive him home to ensure that he was safe. The violence made him feel hopeless.
“We can have as many meetings as we want,” he said. “It doesn’t help.”
The Blarney Stone Pub, decorated with Christmas figurines in its windows, was quiet Friday morning. A few tourists posed for pictures among the Fells Point landmarks nearby, while other passers-by stopped to look in shop windows.
Next door, Steph Johnson, who manages Alexander’s Tavern, was at the restaurant to handle catering orders. She said she left at 11 p.m. Thursday, before the shooting. She said Alexander’s closed at midnight, and her bartender on duty saw the police activity outside as he closed.
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Johnson said she’s glad the Blarney Stone bartender is safe.
“We’re like family,” she said of the bars, restaurants and merchants in Fells Point.
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Johnson, who has worked in Fells Point for the last three years, said she hasn’t worried about her safety — but she is concerned about how the incident might deter patrons from coming to the bar and other businesses.
“I do worry it will hurt business,” she said.
Last year, a man was fatally shot in Fells Point just outside the Baltimore Tattoo Museum, where he worked. Police said James Forrester, 43, was shot in the 1500 block of Eastern Ave. about 7:35 p.m. Dec. 18, after stepping outside to call his wife. A suspect was charged in his death and later acquitted.
The Fells Point Main Street merchant association said in a statement that additional security in the area has brought a decrease in crime.
“With the support and efforts of the Waterfront Partnership, which was brought on at the beginning of 2018, we have had private security from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m., and violent crime in Fells Point is down 33 percent,” the statement said. “This added support, in addition to the Baltimore Police, is helping to dramatically reduce crime and make people feel safe in our neighborhood. We are not going to let this incident deter those efforts.”
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 410-396-2221 or 1-866-7LOCKUP.
Baltimore Sun reporters Lillian Reed, Justin Fenton and Sarah Meehan contributed to this article.