Chocolate cake, marble brownies and lemon cream cheese pastries were going into the oven at Saints Deli when a hail of gunshots rang out Tuesday afternoon like thunder on the corner outside.
An 18-year-old who’d been shot in the shin — one of the victims in the quintuple shooting — hobbled across the street and ducked into the deli, which specializes in crab cakes, cheese steaks and corned beef sandwiches at the corner of Park Heights and Shirley avenues in Northwest Baltimore, said co-owner Manuel Ringgold.
“It was real upsetting,” said Ringgold, who waited with the victim for an ambulance.
In addition to the 18-year-old, police said, a 63-year old man was shot in the arm; a 22-year-old man was shot multiple times in his body; a 49-year old man was shot in the stomach; and a 29-year-old man was shot in the hip.
All were expected to survive, and none of their names were released.
All five had been standing in the block when they were shot about 1 p.m., according to police, who have provided few details and no motive or suspect description. No updates were available Wednesday, police spokesman Jeremy Silbert said. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-866-7LOCKUP.
Ringgold and his brother grew up in Northwest Baltimore and had worked at other restaurants but always dreamed of opening their own deli, he said. In 2009, they bought the building at 3942 Park Heights Ave., which previously had been a laundromat, renovated it into a deli and opened shop five years later.
While vacant homes litter the blocks surrounding the store, the corner isn’t typically the site of many shootings, Ringgold said.
Still, Tuesday’s gunfire was enough to drive customers away. In between promotions of the fresh-baked desserts, the deli’s Instagram story reminded customers it was open, but employees mostly sat idle Wednesday afternoon.
The Food City convenience store across Shirley Avenue, too, had only the occasional customer Wednesday, said owner Waqar Karim.
“We don’t have yesterday business; we don’t have today business,” Karim said. “Everybody’s scared to come in.”
On a wall outside, Tyree Colion, a Baltimore rapper and anti-violence advocate who was stabbed last summer, spray-painted “No Shoot Zone,” the 129th he has designated in Baltimore and other cities since 2015.
Gerald Fox, 73, who lives on Towanda Avenue nearby, watched as Colion sprayed his blue-and-gold mural. He had caught the bus at the corner for an appointment about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, just hours before the shooting, and returned later in the day to hear about it on the news.
As one of the older people in the neighborhood, Fox said, it fills him with despair to see younger ones turn to the streets — and experience the gun violence that awaits.
“People living in this community are dying in this community,” he said. “I don’t want to see my children’s children grow up in a world like this. I want them to be able to live.”
Neighborhood residents need jobs, Ringgold said. He hopes to grow the deli, which has four employees, and eventually hire more. In the meantime, he tries to engage the young men he sees on the street, greeting them and asking them about their lives.
“There must be a change,” the deli owner said. “Everyone’s life is valuable.”