On a busy Saturday night at the Inner Harbor over Memorial Day weekend, crowds of people enjoying a warm evening downtown started running frantically for cover after gunshots rang out in the amphitheater area along the waterfront promenade.
Two teenage victims were hospitalized, and one later died, police said. They were both 17, a boy who was pronounced dead and a girl who was in stable condition hours after the shooting, according to Baltimore Police. The violence continued as two other men were killed in a triple shooting later Saturday night, and a woman was shot and killed early Sunday.
The double shooting at Inner Harbor was reported around 7:35 p.m. in the 300 block of East Pratt Street. Shell casings were visible scattered across the brick amphitheater. Police quickly cordoned off the area with yellow crime tape crisscrossing the walkway that usually would be crowded with tourists and families.
Speaking at the scene Saturday night, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said police officers working in the downtown area heard the gunshots and ran toward them, located the victims within seconds and started rendering aid.
He said the shooting followed some sort of confrontation in the area, and one or more suspects fired shots. “It’s unknown whether either of the victims were intended targets,” he said. Police also were unsure whether the two victims were together or had any connection other than being in the area when the confrontation unfolded.
The shooter or shooters fled the scene and remained at large late Saturday night, Harrison said.
“Once again, this is an unnecessary tragedy that has happened. It’s about young people carrying guns and using them in crowds,” Harrison said. “It’s about them having total disregard for human life and total lack of respect for law enforcement. … This is not just shocking but frustrating and angering.”
Harrison said about 20 Baltimore police officers were in the area when the shooting unfolded, part of a Memorial Day Weekend deployment strategy that will continue through Monday. But the commissioner also noted that more officers alone won’t stop gun violence, as the shooting Saturday night demonstrated.
“This is about them doing this right in front of the police,” he said. “So it’s a bigger conversation than deployment.”
Three other people were shot and killed in the city Saturday night through Sunday morning. A triple shooting in the Barclay neighborhood of South Baltimore killed a 31-year-old man and a man whose age is unknown. Officers arrived around 10:50 p.m. at the 400 block of North East Avenue and found two men inside a car — the unidentified man who died at the scene and a 35-year-old man who was shot in the leg and taken to a hospital. The 31-year-old man was located nearby and was pronounced dead at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
MTA Police found a woman early Sunday morning who died from gunshot wounds inside a car in the Fairfield Area of South Baltimore. Baltimore paramedics arrived around 5:20 a.m. at the 3400 block of South Hanover Street and pronounced the woman dead at the scene.
“I am sickened that this plague continues to grip our city,” Mayor Brandon Scott said in a statement after the 17-year-old was killed. “I will continue to push every public safety agency to do more, but it will also require all of us to collectively say enough is enough, that we’re not going to accept or allow violence in our city. The mission to build a safer Baltimore requires all of us to lean in because the stakes are too high and the need too urgent.”
The shooting at the Inner Harbor occurred while organizers of a festival celebrating Indian culture were cleaning up and dissembling their equipment after hours of revelry in McKeldin Plaza, just across Light Street from the harbor. The Hare Krishna Festival had concluded but several organizers were still in the area when the gunshots rang out.
One man said he heard the shots, looked up and saw a man with a gun. He said the shooter then pulled his hood up, climbed onto a dirt bike and rode away.
“People hit the deck, some with young children, just hit the ground. Others were running,” the man said. He asked to remain anonymous out of concern for his safety.
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Police said investigators are still working to determine whether the person fled on foot or via some sort of motorized vehicle.
“It’s getting out of hand,” said the witness, adding that one of his family members was recently the victim of a carjacking.
Another young woman, who identified herself as Lily, said she and her friends were sitting near the water when the shooting started right in front of them. After quickly realizing this wasn’t fireworks, they took off running east down Pratt Street, she said.
Police kept the area cordoned off for hours Saturday night as throngs of people strolled past the crime tape, some wondering aloud what was going on. Parents watched their children to make sure they didn’t accidentally tumble into the crime scene. Couples dressed for dinner walked by holding hands and carrying leftovers. Kids on dirt bikes sped through traffic.
Harrison said police know a lot of people witnessed the shooting, and he called on them to come forward and help detectives solve the case.
“We are counting on you,” he said.
Anyone with relevant information about this incident is asked to call detectives at 410-396-2411 or call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7lockup. Anyone with information about the fatal shootings in Fairfield Area or the Barclay neighborhood is asked to call 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7Lockup.