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Baltimore Investigators Searching for Suspects in Block Party Mass Shooting that Killed 2 and Injured 28 Others

Investigators in Baltimore are searching for multiple suspects in a mass shooting that turned a beloved annual neighborhood block party into chaos early Sunday, killing two people and injuring 28 others, most of whom were teens, officials said.

The search for the shooters – investigators believe at least two were involved in the incident – is ongoing, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott told CNN Monday, vowing, “We will not rest until we find those who cowardly decided to shoot up this block party and carry out acts of violence which we know will be illegal guns.”

Officials are combing through “every single lead, every minute, every second of footage, everything that we have to find out who decided to disrupt this peaceful event in this way,” Scott said on “CNN This Morning.”

The gunfire erupted early Sunday in the south Baltimore neighborhood of Brooklyn, where community members were enjoying a yearly celebration dubbed Brooklyn Day.

Aaliyah Gonzalez, 18, whose surname police initially spelled ending with an ‘s,’ and Kylis Fagbemi, 20, were fatally shot, the Baltimore Police Department said.

The dozens of surviving victims all sustained gunshot wounds, according to acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley. Five of those injured were adults, aged 20 or older, and the remaining 23 were teenagers, ranging in age from 13 to 19, police said.

Seven of the wounded remain in hospitals, with four in critical condition and three in stable condition, the mayor noted.

Investigators are scouring the sprawling crime scene – which spans several blocks – for evidence and are poring over hours of surveillance footage, the police commissioner said. Officials have urged community members with information or video footage to come forward.

A reward for information leading to the capture of the suspects has been raised to $28,000, Worley said at a news conference Monday.

The attack marks one of the latest acts of gun violence to thrust an American community into grief as they gather in everyday spaces, including parks, schools, shopping malls and grocery stores.

The shooting is one of about 340 mass shootings in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The archive, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, not including the shooter.

“This tragic incident is another glaring, unfortunate example of the deep issues of violence in Baltimore, in Maryland and this country and particularly gun violence and the access to illegal guns,” Scott said.

The National Rifle Association sued Maryland Gov. Wes Moore after he signed the Gun Safety Act of 2023 and other gun safety measures into law in May, court documents show. The law “prohibits a person from knowingly wearing, carrying, or transporting a firearm in certain locations,” according to the governor’s office.

Block party crowd scatters amid gunfire

Police began receiving calls reporting the shooting around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Worley.

As officers arrived to the scene, they found an 18-year-old woman – later identified as Gonzalez – dead, police said. Fagbemi was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

An ice cream truck was parked directly across from where Gonzalez was shot and killed. The truck’s driver, Keith, who declined to give his last name, told CNN he watched her collapse on the stairs as hundreds of people ran for cover.

Keith said he told his children to lay down on the floor of the truck and wait for the rounds of shooting to stop.

“I walked over to [Gonzalez], checked her pulse, straightened her out, tried to start doing CPR but she was already dead,” he said.

Some who suffered gunshot injuries took shelter inside the ice cream truck. On Monday morning, blood was still on the ground near the truck’s parking spot.

Keith said he could not see where the gunshots were coming from. He said there were no disruptions at the block party before the shooting started.

He said his two daughters, 13 and 18 years old, are “fine but extremely stressed out.”

Investigators have yet to determine a motive in the attack and are still investigating whether the victims were targeted or indiscriminately shot at, the police commissioner said.

Staff at MedStar Harbor Hospital were expecting a routine overnight shift when they were met with the arrival of several patients with traumatic gunshot wounds, Dr. Hania Habeeb, associate chair of the emergency department, said at a news conference Monday.

Many of the patients were minors, brought in by concerned family and loved ones, she said.

“We didn’t know if we were safe. We didn’t know if the shooter or shooters were right outside of our hospital doors,” Habeeb said.

The hospital went on immediate lockdown to ensure safety while staff performed lifesaving procedures to stabilize the victims.

‘I’ve been to so many funerals’

The block party was held as an annual celebration of the Brooklyn neighborhood. Scott called on the public to think of the shooting as if it happened in a rural community. “When it happens in Baltimore, Chicago or DC it doesn’t get that same attention,” he said.

“These Black American lives, children’s lives, matter just as anyone else,” he said.

Scott described the Brooklyn neighborhood as a working-class community filled with “immense pride.”

“It is a neighborhood that has had its troubles, but a neighborhood that has seen some folks in that community really determined to see it be successful and see things turn around,” he added.

There were “at least a couple hundred people” at the event Saturday, Worley said Monday, describing it as “unpermitted,” and noting no organizers filed paperwork with the city.

Asked about whether police had been appropriately staffed for the event, Worley said the annual celebration happens on a different Saturday each year. In the past, law enforcement was able to discover the date of the event in advance to prepare resources.

But this year, police did not learn of the event until the day of, Worley said.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get there in time to prevent what happened.”

The mayor said his office is mobilizing every available resource to assist with the investigation, including distributing information about community-based services available to residents in the Brooklyn Homes area, which he described as a public housing facility.

Yvonne Booker, a resident of Brooklyn Homes, told CNN affiliate WBAL she’s lived in the area for three decades and feels the gun violence has reached a breaking point.

“It’s kind of hard for me. I’m a mother. They need to stop. It’s too much. I’ve been to so many funerals in this community,” Booker said.

Source : CNN