Baltimore police said Friday that they had located a white Mercedes they believe was connected to the death of 7-year-old Taylor Hayes, but urged the public to provide information to help them investigate the fatal shooting.
“We know a number of people saw that shooting. We know that for a fact, and we want you to come forward,” interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle said at a news conference at police headquarters.
“There’s a child who is no longer with us. Have some level of sympathy with respect to that,” he said. “That child needs justice. Her family needs justice, and we want you to come forward.”
Police did not say how finding the Mercedes may advance the case. Spokesman T.J. Smith said detectives were able to identify the owner of the vehicle, which was seen leaving the shooting July 5, but would not say if that person is implicated.
Taylor died Thursday, two weeks after being struck with a bullet while riding in the back seat of a Honda Accord in Southwest Baltimore.
No charges have been filed in the case, and police have not provided a possible motive.
Frustration over the case extended into Friday evening as hundreds of men, women and children, some of them wearing white headbands declaring them as members of the “Taylor Gang,” filled the corner of Edmondson and Loudon avenues, near the girl’s home, for what was billed as a “Neighborhood Night Out: A Pizza Party for Peace.”
There were no candles, but dozens of purple and white balloons, and T-shirts bearing Taylor’s name and image. The deejay music was hip-hop and loud. There were snowballs, cupcakes, snacks, fruit juice and pizza. Police stopped traffic in the 3900 of Edmondson Avenue when the crowd moved into the street after a small fleet of motorcycles arrived to put on a show.
“We’re tired of seeing death,” said Shannon Craig who, with her friend, Ashley Bess, organized the event. “This is about life and love.”
“We need to let these babies know the community stands behind them, that they can grow up to be doctors, nurses or lawyers, whatever they want to be,” Craig said.
At Friday’s press conference, Tuggle declined to provide additional details on the case, saying, “At this point, we really need to maintain the integrity of the investigation.”
Police previously charged Darnell Holmes, 33, who was driving the car Taylor was riding in, and Holmes’ boyfriend Mallik Edison, 20, who investigators say was in the passenger seat. Both have been charged with drug and gun-related crimes unrelated to Taylor’s shooting.
The couple was charged after officers searched the Accord and recovered a loaded gun, a digital scale and heroin from the glove box. Charging documents indicate that Edison is prohibited from possessing a firearm because of past juvenile complaints.
Holmes’ daughter, who was also riding in the car when the shooting occurred, was uninjured.
The incident began on the afternoon of July 5 as Holmes was driving east on Edmondson Avenue. When she turned right on Lyndhurst Street, bullets struck the trunk of the car and Taylor in the torso, according to police.
Charging documents state that surveillance video shows the car stopping along Edmondson Avenue. The documents say Edison can be seen in video footage running to a police officer in the area, then running to an ambulance. Taylor was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Holmes’ attorney, Staci L. Pipkin said her client drove until she saw a police officer, who was flagged for help, and also sought help from a private ambulance that was in the area.
“Taylor was very important to her,” Pipkin said.
Police have accused Holmes of not cooperating with investigators — and giving a false statement about whether Edison was with her in the car when the shooting occurred. Police say she told them she was on her way to pick up Edison and that he “randomly appeared” in the area after the shooting, according to charging documents.
But surveillance video shows Edison was in the car during the shooting, charging documents state. Additionally, Holmes referred to “the four of us” in a conversation with an officer at the scene — captured on body camera footage, the documents said.
Attorneys for both Holmes and Edison say their clients sought help for the little girl after the shooting.
Pipkin said Holmes has been cooperative with investigators, and said Friday she’s “beyond frustrated” with the characterization that Holmes has not cooperated. She said her client has received threats inside the city jail where she is being held, and is now in protective custody.
Edison’s attorney, Roya Hanna, said Friday that her client “was the person who went to police and went to help with Taylor.”
“We’re looking forward to exonerating him at trial,” Hanna said.
During the news conference Smith announced that police are also investigating the death of another child. He said an 18-month-old child suffered internal injuries and the child’s death Wednesday was determined to be a homicide.
He noted it was the third death in three months involving a youngster. Three-month-old Jawuan Pinkeny died in May. His mother was charged in that case.
“We’re talking about three children under the age of 10 who have been killed this year. Two of which were killed at the hands of some caretaker,” Smith said.
Anyone with information about the shooting that led to Taylor’s death is asked to call detectives at 410-396-2100 or text tips to 443-902-4824.
Dan Rodricks contributed to this article.
This story was featured in The Sun's Alexa Flash Briefing on July 20, 2018.