Baltimore samaritan who bandaged a shooting victim from block party says ‘All they know is guns’
Jul 3, 2023, 4:20 AM | Updated: Jul 4, 2023, 5:14 pm
BALTIMORE (AP) — Authorities searched Monday for the suspects who opened fire during a holiday weekend block party in Baltimore that killed two people, wounded 28 others and prompted one resident to jump into action when she found a wounded teenage girl on her doorstep.
Police identified the deceased as 18-year-old Aaliyah Gonzalez and 20-year-old Kylis Fagbemi. The 28 injured victims ranged in age from 13 to 32, with more than half younger than 18, officials said.
Charlene Bowie, 66, who lives close to where the shooting took place, said she saw a huge crowd, largely made up of teenagers.
“They were having fun in the beginning, but you know kids … they started drinking and they was getting all out of order,” she said.
Bowie said she called the police and told her 15-year-old granddaughter to come inside. They heard gunshots a little while later, and a bullet struck her air conditioner, breaking off a piece of it and hitting her granddaughter in the back. The girl was unhurt, and they both laid on the floor, Bowie said.
“Then I heard some banging on the door — boom, boom, boom, real loud — so I come down and got the door. The little girl (was) laying on my steps, shot,” she said.
Bowie said she ran inside to get a rag, then tied a makeshift tourniquet around the girl’s leg.
“I just kept talking to her so she wouldn’t get panicky, you know,” she said.
Learning that young people were killed in the shooting was especially painful for Bowie because she lost her son, 19, and her grandson, 15, to gun violence in separate shootings years ago.
“It hurts so bad because they haven’t begun to live. They don’t even know what life is, they don’t. All they know is guns. That’s all they know, and it’s sad,” she said.
The circumstances leading up to the shooting early Sunday remained under investigation after police spent hours combing a massive crime scene in the Brooklyn Homes area in the southern part of the city.
No arrests had been made by early Monday. Richard Worley, Baltimore’s acting police commissioner, said it wasn’t clear if the shooting was targeted or random, but he said police believe there were multiple shooters.
“We don’t know exactly how many, but we do know more than one person was shooting,” Worley said.
The event has been held for decades, but no permit was issued this year and police didn’t find out about it ahead of time, as they have in past years, Worley said.
“Obviously, the conversation to deploy more resources was too late,” Worley said Monday. “By the time we got there, the incident already occurred.”
The shooting comes amid gatherings around the country leading up to the July Fourth holiday. A shooting in Kansas left seven people with gunshot wounds and two more victims hospitalized after being trampled as people rushed out of a nightclub early Sunday morning, police there said.
The violence in Baltimore occurred the same week federal prosecutors there touted efforts to reduce violent crime in the city. Police have reported nearly 130 homicides and close to 300 shootings so far this year, though that’s down from the same time last year.
James Townes was sitting in his car when he heard gunshots, and immediately began driving around looking for his two children, 16 and 11, who were both at the block party. Townes, whose 18-year-old son was fatally shot two years ago, said all he could think about was his other children hearing the gunfire and being in the middle of the violence. As he searched for them, he saw injured people being put on gurneys.
Townes eventually found his children safe. “I think I held them for like 10 minutes,” he said.
Gov. Wes Moore said his “heart breaks for these victims, their families, and the Baltimore community that is coping with the loss.”
Several residents said police had been stationed at the block party in past years. The event is held every July to celebrate the South Baltimore neighborhood, a mix of modest row houses and public housing.
Anthony Lewis, 64, said he was getting into the shower when a bullet ripped through a window in his house and into his bathroom wall. Another bullet came through a downstairs window.
Lewis said his girlfriend thought he had been shot and collapsed on the floor. He had been thinking about moving out of the city, and those plans are more urgent now.
“I gotta get away from it,” he said.
This story corrects the spelling of Aaliyah Gonzalez’ last name throughout.
This story corrects throughout the number of injured to 28, not 30.
Ramer reported from Concord, New Hampshire. Kimberlee Kruesi in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.