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As a mother mourns the loss of a son, city leaders and residents walk for peace in Baltimore

Alyson Haydel wanted to hold her son one last time. But hospital staff told her she couldn’t last week as she identified his lifeless body that was still hooked up to machines and tubes after he was fatally shot in a quintuple shooting last week.

“It was just like a nightmare. You don’t want to see your child not respond to you. And then you can’t touch him. It’s unreal,” she said.

On Tuesday, she headed to the funeral home to finalize arrangements for her son, 26-year-old Andre Haydel, who was killed in a quintuple shooting last week.

Meanwhile a large crowd gathered at 6 p.m. at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, at Pennsylvania and Fremont avenues, northwest of downtown, to remember recent victims and march for peace in blocks surrounding the church, which has seen much violence.

“We really have no greater sense of urgency in our city then ending the senseless violence that plagues our communities,” city Councilman Eric Costello said as the group paused along the solemn route to hear the names of victims who were killed. “We’ve grown too complacent in this city with the violence. We have allowed people to devalue human life. … We need to continue to come together.”

Baltimore Archbishop William Lori told the crowd the city must use “use the power of love to conquer hatred … to conquer violence.”

Bishop Denis J. Madden led the marchers, who included Mayor Catherine Pugh, Acting Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, and city Councilman Leon Pinkett, who also spoke out against the city’s violence.

“It will become the greatest city in America, and it can be, but there are too many shootings, too many unnecessary killings, too many illegal guns on the streets of our city,” Pugh said. “I can tell you every single day there is nothing more important to improving the quality of life than reducing crime in the city.”

As the marchers walked they sang “Come By Here, My Lord” and other hymns, passing a liquor store on Pennsylvania Avenue where a man stood in the doorway and watched them go by. The crowd passed another vacant liquor store, turned onto a darkened block on Gold Street, and passed a lot littered with trash.

Flo Valentine and her friend T.T. Moore were among the marchers. Valentine said she’s attended half a dozen walks because she wants to see change in the city she loves.

“We want peace in this city and we can get it,” the Ednor Gardens resident said.

Few others were out in the street that was lined with rowhouses, some with plywood-covered windows. The crowd briefly paused on a corner of Division Street, where beyond the crest of a hill, downtown buildings were bathed in light.

Andre Haydel was among five people gunned down just blocks away. Police said the shooting occurred just after 6 p.m. Thursday in the 500 block of Bloom St.

Police said two patrol officers were in the area and heard the gunshots before the ShotSpotter alerts or 911 calls came in. They found two victims in the 500 block of Bloom St. A third and fourth were found in the vicinity shortly thereafter, and a fifth victim was found at North Avenue and Monroe Street, he said.

The four injured victims ranged from 19 to 46 years old. Police said 12 people were shot that day, including four who were killed.

Police have not identified a motive or suspects in the case. Alyson Haydel said said the family had lived in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood for many years, and her son graduated from Frederick Douglass High School. The family had moved to Baltimore County, but his mother said her son and the family still had friends they would visit in the neighborhood regularly.

Haydel said her son had been heading home from work to meet up with friends when she said police told her they believe he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“That’s not any comfort,” she said. She said the family knows some of the others who were injured.

Haydel not a criminal mixed up in drug-dealing or other crime, she said. Ivan Bates once represented Haydel in a handgun case that was ultimately dropped after Bates was able to show his client had been at work at a downtown cafe.

“Andre was not that person,” his mother said.

Haydel’s girlfriend, Da'Jah Bushrod, previously told The Baltimore Sun that Haydel was working at a moving company and aspired to work in real estate.

“Andre was the person to bring a smile on your face, always make you laugh. He was sort of a clown. He was a good guy,” his mother said.

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