The three people killed in an apparent double murder-suicide Saturday that spanned from Baltimore City to Howard County all worked as nurse anesthetists at area hospitals.
Police said Rajaee Shareef Black, 44, fatally shot his ex-girlfriend, Tara Labang, 41, inside a home in South Baltimore. He then traveled to Columbia and gunned down his ex-wife, Wendy Natalie Black, 42, police said.
In between the killings, Rajaee, who is from Hanover, stood outside his former wife’s apartment building and said in a Facebook Live video that he “just did something crazy.” Then he says that he shot Labang in the head and that it “felt like a dream.” He said he planned to kill his ex-wife and himself next.
Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital confirmed Monday afternoon that Labang worked at the hospital as a certified registered nurse anesthetist, helping administer the proper doses of anesthesia for surgeries and other procedures such as epidurals.
“We are shocked and saddened by this news, and our thoughts and prayers are with Tara’s family,” hospital spokesman Bradley Cardwell wrote in a statement. “Tara will be greatly missed in her community and by all of Ascension Saint Agnes.”
Cardwell said that the hospital’s spiritual care department and employee assistance program is being mobilized to help those in need.
Labang also worked at University of Maryland Capital Region Health, according to a statement from hospital spokeswoman Jania Matthews.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic incident surrounding the death of a team member, who cared for patients in our hospital under a contract with a medical provider,” Matthews wrote in an email. “We extend heartfelt condolences to the family and are offering grief counseling to her colleagues.”
Yul McIntyre, a longtime surgical technologist at Saint Agnes, said he met Labang when she was in training as a nurse anesthetist at the hospital.
“She was a hard worker. She was fun to be around. She had this smile and this energy about her that: When she was happy, you were happy,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre said it was a joy to watch Labang warm up to the operating room, where they sometimes worked together. When McIntyre cued up music during procedures, she always joked that he shouldn’t put her to sleep. Hip-hop, therefore, was a favorite.
Earlier this year, McIntyre ran into Labang at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, where they also worked, after having not seen her in a few months.
“We were coming around the corner and she said, ‘Yul!’ and I said, ‘Tara!’” McIntyre said. “She gave me a big old hug.”
She told him about her experiences working at various hospitals in the region, trying to find a permanent fit. Later on, they saw each other in the employee lounge, and Labang snapped a selfie with him, smiling wide, McIntyre said.
Monday morning, the team at Saint Agnes huddled and said a prayer for Labang and the other victims of Saturday’s tragedy, McIntyre said.
“We’re all in it for her,” McIntyre said.
Wendy Black had worked at Howard County General Hospital as a nurse anesthetist for nearly five years, spokeswoman Sharon Sopp said.
Rajaee held a nurse anesthetist position at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs since June 2020, department spokesperson Ming T. Vincenti said.
The department plans to offer grief counseling to his colleagues and said officials there “extend our deepest condolences to all affected family members and friends.”
According to his LinkedIn profile, Rajaee Black also previously worked for the University of Maryland Capital Region Health for about 3 1/2 years.
Court records show Rajaee Black filed a federal lawsuit against University of Maryland Medical System in January, claiming he had been wrongfully fired after he exposed a doctor who allegedly was stashing drugs in his locker.
The system declined to comment on the case, citing a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.
Dr. Lena Gould, founder and CEO of the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program, said in a tweet early Monday that she mentored both Blacks and Labang.
“On Saturday afternoon, I was informed of the tragic news of 3 CRNAs who were killed that rocked my core and shattered my heart,” she wrote. “I mentored them since they were nurses. Three souls are gone.”
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Baltimore Police Department’s Southern District station got a call around 1:30 p.m. about a residential alarm in the 1500 block of Marshall St. Officers found the door kicked in and, inside the home, officers discovered Labang shot to death.
Less than an hour later, Howard County Police officers were called to Columbia’s Kings Contrivance neighborhood in the 7300 block of Eden Brook Drive for a report of shots fired. Police found both Wendy and Rajaee Black dead.
Baltimore Police tried to alert Howard County authorities to a video of Black on Facebook Live where he alluded to the fact he was planning to kill his ex-wife — but it was too late.
“I never thought I would be that guy,” he said in the video. “I can’t go to prison, so the person that really started my depression and all of this is my ex-wife. So, she next. Then I’m going to do myself too.”
Black said in the video that he was upset about custody issues between the two women. Court records show a lengthy custody battle between him and Wendy Black that’s been unfolding for three years. Records also showed a history of domestic violence charges, but does not show who filed the charges.
Howard police said the Blacks’ two young children were inside his gray BMW while the killings occurred but were found unharmed.
Baltimore Sun reporters Justin Fenton and Christine Condon contributed to this article.