Alpha Smith, 62, and Silvesta Daye Jr., 43, were killed at the Royal Farms in Essex. Douglas Green, 58, and Olivia Green, 62, were killed at their Baldwin home. Police have identified their son, 27-year-old Joshua Green, who died by suicide, as the shooter.
Police said the mass shooting began at Joshua Green’s parents’ home in Baldwin, where he shot and killed the couple in the garage between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday.
Just before 7 a.m., he arrived at the Royal Farms store along Middleborough Road in Essex, and used his car to block in Smith, who had parked in front of the store, Baltimore County Police Col. Andre Davis said. Joshua Green then approached Smith and shot her through the car window, police said.
Then, he entered the store, where he shot and killed another customer, Daye. Finally, he shot a 22-year-old employee, Joshua Robinson, in the leg, said county police spokeswoman Joy Lepola-Stewart. Robinson is in stable condition at a local hospital, police said.
Then, Green went to his apartment less than a mile away and set fire to a mattress, police said. Neighbors called police when he ran out of the Hartland Ridge complex on fire, Lepola-Stewart said. Green then shot and killed himself in the parking lot.
The fire didn’t cause any structural damage, and firefighters put it out in less than 10 minutes, said Elise Armacost, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokeswoman. The one-alarm blaze did, however, cause an estimated $10,000 in damage to the apartment.
When police went to speak with Green’s parents around 3:20 p.m. at their home along Manor Road, they found their bodies instead.
Police still are investigating Green’s motives. They said his gun was legally obtained, and registered in his name.
“As to why this occurred, we have no idea yet,” Davis said. “Our homicide detectives are tirelessly investigating a motive.”
During the news conference Monday morning, county police chief Melissa Hyatt decried the “senseless tragedy.”
“Baltimore County suffered through a horrific and sickening event, which changed the lives of many people, including some who were lost,” Hyatt said. “For the friends and family of the victims, for the employees of the Royal Farms store and our entire Baltimore County community, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. commended the work of the police department in investigating the violence.
“I would encourage everyone to check on and care for our neighbors, and I know that we will all be hugging our loved ones a little tighter today and tonight.”
Kathy Raskin, who lives in the Shepherds Knoll community across Manor Road from the Greens’ home, said she had lived in the neighborhood since 1995 but had never spoken with the Greens.
”My only knowledge of them is I saw the father, on occasion, mowing the lawn and I would see the mother doing yard work,” Raskin said.
Other neighbors also said they didn’t know the family.
On Monday, remembrances poured in for the victims at the Royal Farms.
Smith, a loving mother who went by “Alfie,” was remembered for her positive spirit.
“She was always smiling — always smiling — and always loved to talk to you, always made you smile,” said Rodcita Gray, a friend who took care of one of Smith’s daughters at a local day care.
A GoFundMe page started for her family had raised more than $10,000, exceeding its original goal, as of Monday night.
“She loved boldly, and never complained. If she cared for you, you knew it, without question,” the family’s page read. “She would go out her way, and give her last, to help anyone. This is such a major loss for our family.”
Employees and customers at the Food Lion in Essex where Smith worked remembered her as the “light of the store,” who danced through her shifts and worked to make everyone laugh.
Cashier Shirley Webster, 65, said the two were so close they called each other sisters.
”She had a personality like you wouldn’t believe, and she always got the customers to laugh,” the Essex resident recalled.
Smith would often work the express lane at the store, Webster said, and would hustle people through checkout in record time — even if they were over the item limit.
Tina Marie Rund-McGraw, 54, said she knew Smith for about 15 years. When Rund-McGraw’s husband died a few years ago, Smith helped her grieve and always supported her.
”She was everything to me and now it feels like a piece of me is missing,” said Rund-McGraw, who cleans the Food Lion. “She always made you feel like you were on top of the stars.”
“She will be missed but never forgotten,” Rund-McGraw said. “Down here we’re all hurting but I know she is up there smiling down on us.”
Sharon Buono, a 58-year-old cashier, said she knew Smith for about 20 years and described her as one of the most hardworking people she knows.
”If she wasn’t working or with her loved ones, she was out helping people,” the Essex resident said.
Ellis Davis, who lives in Essex, said he knew both of the Royal Farms’ victims, but knew Daye, who went by “Vess,” for more than 20 years. The pair especially enjoyed going fishing together in Sparrows Point, and Davis said he’ll remember Daye for his relentless optimism.
“I’m not an optimistic person, right? So if anything happened I’d be thinking the worst. He always made me realize that it’s not as bad as it could be,” Davis said.
Friends said Daye had a passion for comedy, and enjoyed acting in sketches put on by his friends at a local barbershop, which they posted online under the name Redz Dabarber.
“You would always have a good time when he was around. He would keep you laughing,” said John Cottrell, who grew up with Daye in Essex. “He could have done stand-up.”
Cottrell said he met Daye while playing football when they were teenagers, and would often see him at a local pool hall. More recently, Daye helped Cottrell with his business, making trips to the dump in his pickup truck, and doing landscaping jobs.
“He’s like a jack of all trades,” Cottrell said.
He did those things in spite of a bad motorcycle accident in the early 2000s, which impaired his vision, Cottrell said.
“He had to wear thick glasses, but he didn’t like to wear them,” he said. “So he’d be like 10 feet from you and wouldn’t recognize you.”
Daye was also a dedicated Muslim who was preparing for the holy month of Ramadan, said his friend Abdul Shakur.
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Shakur, 36, who lives in Southeast Washington, met Daye at a masjid, or mosque, in Baltimore, and the pair became fast friends.
They got to talking while putting their shoes back on after prayer one day, and have been in touch ever since.
“I’m not even from Baltimore. I don’t have any family members in Baltimore. And all my family members in Washington, D.C., would swear by Allah that I did have family in Baltimore because of these brothers,” Shakur said.
Friday night, Shakur saw his longtime friend for the last time. He picked him up from a bus stop in Baltimore, and they spent time together at his friend’s home in Charles Village, where they talked until the early hours of the morning.
Before he left, Shakur embraced his friend. Normally, he would have just said goodbye with a salaam, an Arabic phrase that means “Peace be upon you.”