Baltimore shooting: Firing at block party tears apart neighborhood

In video from a block party Saturday night, hundreds of teens and young adults are seen dancing and singing to songs by local rappers in Baltimore’s Brooklyn neighborhood. As they scream and wave their hands in the air, many grab phones to record the fun on a warm summer night.

But videos that emerged shortly after midnight tell a tale of terror and tragedy: teenagers running from gunfire, people falling to the ground, and a mother wailing as police officers meet at the sprawling crime scene where her daughter was fatally shot. was fatally shot.

Two youths were killed and more than 28 were injured in a shooting during a Brooklyn Day party in South Baltimore. Police said that half of those shot were under 18 years old.

Even for a city plagued by gun violence in recent years, the number of victims was staggering, more than could sit in an average high school classroom. In the past decade, only 10 other shootings in the United States killed so many people. According to Gun Violence ArchiveA research group, although several mass shootings have claimed more lives.

On Monday, many in a Brooklyn neighborhood were in shock, and many city leaders were urging people to come forward with information, even as police faced sharp questions about whether the event had any Why were there no officers? Although there is no fixed date, the mayor said that the event has been held every summer for 27 years, and last year officials were present.

Baltimore’s acting police commissioner, Richard Worley, said the department had learned of the party’s existence “several hours before” the shootings, which occurred shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday. He added that several guns were used and police have not arrested anyone yet.

He and Mayor Brandon M. Scott deflected questions about the officers’ absence and sought to focus on the perpetrators of the violence.

“We won’t stop until we find those responsible and hold them accountable – we won’t do that,” Mr Scott said. “That said, we need the help of our residents and anyone in the know to come forward and say something, so that we can bring to justice those who recklessly perpetrate such acts of violence Have been.”

Mr Scott cited a video circulating on social media showing a teenage boy brandishing a gun at the party and said the adults attending had shirked their responsibility to keep young people under control.

Mr Scott said, “There were adults videoing youths with guns who didn’t say anything, did nothing, who didn’t say to the police, ‘Hey, I know this teen with a gun at this event’ has come.” “There was a time when even the toughest guys on the street saw a young kid with something like that, they’d step in there, do something.”

Still, city leaders shed little light on why police did not know about the incident earlier. In the days leading up to the party, several people had mentioned it on social media platforms. On Twitter alone, a handful of people discussed the incident in public posts two days before it occurred. One user wrote Thursday that “the whole of Baltimore” was “talking about moving to Brooklyn Day.”

Commissioner Worley said that, in previous years, the department had received advertisements or social media mentions of the party and sent officers to monitor it. But this year, he said, analysts and one of the department’s top intelligence officials didn’t get any positions. He also noted that no one had applied for a permit for the event, though he acknowledged that this was the case with previous Brooklyn Day parties.

He said, “We knew it was coming at some point, but we had no clue it was happening that day because we’d never seen an ad for it.”

The shooting comes as the number of murders in Baltimore has decreased slightly in recent years, according to the baltimore banner, But it has raised fears that such a large, public shooting could spark a wave of retaliatory violence. The city saw an average of 333 murders every year from 2015 to 2022. according to the baltimore sun,

Crystal Gonzalez, whose 18-year-old daughter Aaliyah Gonzalez was one of the two people killed, said Monday that she is feeling more pain than ever in her life. He cries and says that he recently threw a party to celebrate Aaliyah’s high school graduation.

18-year-old Aaliyah Gonzalez died in the shooting.Credit…crystal gonzalez

Her mother said Aaliyah was working at Starbucks, taking on extra shifts and saving money for a car. For most of high school, Aaliyah was eager to attend college out-of-state, but changed her mind shortly before graduation and enrolled at Anne Arundel Community College near her home in the Baltimore suburb of Glen Burnie. planned.

“Suddenly, when senior year was about to end, he said, ‘Mom, I don’t want to go; I want to live here,” Ms. Gonzalez recalled. “She wanted to be with us.”

Ms. Gonzalez said she did not think Aaliyah had ever been to the Brooklyn neighborhood before, and that Aaliyah was spending the night with a friend in a Baltimore suburb who had decided to go to the party.

“She was a very nice girl,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “She would analyze people – why are they feeling that way? What can I do to help? It was Alia. She was so bright and sensitive, and I swear this world didn’t deserve her. She was very nice to be here.

On Sunday morning, Ms. Gonzalez said, she heard her husband’s “No!” Woke up screaming. Someone calls her using Aaliya’s phone and tells her that she has been shot. Ms. Gonzalez said she could not believe the victim was her daughter and ran to the scene, but was stopped by officers and told she did not want to see her daughter’s body.

“We need to find out who did this,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “it hurts so bad.”

Police have identified the second victim as 20-year-old Kylis Fagbemi. Commissioner Worley said officers are still reviewing the video and interviewing the victims.

On Monday afternoon, remains were left around the Brooklyn Homes, the public housing complex that was the center of the event, a grim reminder of what happened the day before. A snow-cone truck was still parked in the complex’s parking lot. A few lawn chairs and a purple puffed stool were set up outside among rows of identical, squat, red-brick apartments.

People living nearby said the party started as expected, although perhaps with a smaller number of children than usual. There was a DJ in the parking lot, people dancing and vendors serving food.

Anthony Wicks, who lives in the neighborhood, said he was keeping an eye on his 6-year-old daughter while she was playing in his front yard near the party Saturday night.

When Mr. Wicks heard the gunshots, he grabbed his daughter and ran. As he ran, a bullet hit the side of his torso and ricocheted off something else.

“It was almost me; It was almost my daughter,” he said on Monday. “The children cannot even come out. it’s too much.”

Donna Owens Contributed reporting from Baltimore. alain delaquarriere Contributed to research.

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