A 15-year-old boy was fatally shot amid a hail of bullets on a West Baltimore street Tuesday afternoon, making him the third teenager killed in the city this month and the second boy of his age killed in the Harlem Park neighborhood.
The boy's killing came shortly after the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old man in Northeast Baltimore, and was the 227th homicide in the city so far this year as the city continues on a record pace of homicides.
Officers were called to the 900 block of Bennett Place about 1:50 p.m. and found the boy, who was not immediately identified, on the sidewalk, police said. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Crime scene technicians placed at least 15 evidence markers around a pool of blood on the sidewalk next to the H&H Grocery corner store, as top commanders — including Police Commissioner Kevin Davis — surveyed the scene.
The corner is a particular hot spot for violent crime. Two people were shot there, one of them fatally, on July 18, and three people were killed in a single incident in December. Since 2013, 11 people have been shot or killed at the intersection, according to city records. Police barricaded the block and stationed an officer there around the clock after a spate of violence in 2013.
Albert Wylie, 71, owner of Wylie Funeral Homes and president of the Harlem Park Neighborhood Council, said the violence reflects the lack of development and employment opportunities in the neighborhood. He said Harlem Park has repeatedly been left behind — by city leaders who abandoned redevelopment plans there for efforts in neighborhoods around Johns Hopkins Hospital on the east side, and by state officials who pulled the plug on the federally backed Red Line light rail through the area and all the development it promised to bring.
"The emphasis needs to be the revitalization of the community as a whole. There are too many vacant properties, too many abandoned properties," he said. "The leadership of the city need to redirect their efforts toward this community."
The killings of the two boys this month were particularly tragic, Wylie said, because "they never had an opportunity" to thrive in a neighborhood where opportunities existed, as they did when he grew up in Harlem Park.
"I remember working at various companies during the summer, waiting to go back to school, but those opportunities are no longer around," he said.
Davis said he goes to as many homicide scenes as possible, in part because "in the midst of a crisis — and somebody getting shot in front of your house is a crisis — I think it means something to see leaders taking it seriously."
Police have not forgotten the neighborhood and are aware of the recurring violence there, he said. He called the shooting of the boy "very sad," and the violence the city is experiencing "outrageous."
Davis said a preliminary investigation indicated there was a single shooter, and the number of shell casings on the ground suggested a high-capacity magazine was used.
"Today's killer doesn't give a damn if there is collateral damage. That's what I see," he said. "It seems like these shooters are just going to spray."
In the earlier incident in Northeast Baltimore, officers were called about 12:25 p.m. to the 3700 block of Fleetwood Ave. for a car accident and found a 24-year-old man fatally shot in a vehicle, police said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, on the boundary of the city's Overlea and Rosemont East neighborhoods.
The two shootings on Tuesday followed a violent Monday, when nine people were shot, one fatally. A 54-year-old man killed was among the victims of a quadruple shooting in Northwest Baltimore that also left a 53-year-old man, a 38-year-old man and a 24-year-old man wounded.
Also wounded in separate shootings Monday were five other men ages 18, 19, 20, 31 and 33.
Davis said the killings of teenagers are particularly concerning for residents, and understandably so. A 15-year-old boy should be "getting ready to go back to school" at this time of year, "not getting shot on a street corner in West Baltimore," he said.
The boy is the third teenager killed in Baltimore this month.
On Aug. 8, 15-year-old Tyrese Davis was shot during a robbery in the 1600 block of W. Franklin St. — also in the Harlem Park neighborhood — and died a couple of days later.
On Aug. 11, 16-year-old Thomas Johnson was shot in the 4100 block of Chesterfield Ave. in Belair-Edison in Northeast Baltimore.
Wylie, who grew up in the same block where Tyrese Davis was killed, opened a new $2.5 million funeral home in the neighborhood in 2014, where he has employed local residents.
He said he wishes more business leaders would make similar investments. The lives of young boys there may depend on it, he said.
"Once you start the revitalization effort, it opens the door for employment," he said. "If the economics of this community would change, so would the mindset of some of these guys on the street."
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.