Baltimore investigators searching for suspects in block party mass shooting that killed 2 and injured 28 others
Jul 3, 2023, 10:45 AM | Updated: 10:54 am
(CNN) — 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, and a reward for information has been raised to $28,000.
“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,” Scott told Phil Mattingly and Audie Cornish on “CNN This Morning.”
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,” he said.
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 name police inititally spelled ending with an ‘s,’ and Kylis Fagbemi, 20, were fatally shot, the Baltimore Police Department announced.
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.
Nine of the wounded remained in hospitals in “various conditions” as of Sunday afternoon, Worley said.
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 also urged community members to come forward with any relevant information or video footage that may assist in the investigation.
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 on the scene, they found an 18-year-old woman – later identified as Gonzalez – dead, police said. A 20-year-old identified as Fagbemi was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A local 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 figuring out whether the victims were targeted or indiscriminately shot at, the police commissioner said. As officers canvassed the neighborhood during the day Sunday, K-9 units located additional shell casings that had not been found overnight, he said.
Mayor Scott said Sunday his office is mobilizing every available resource to assist with the investigation.
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.
“This was a reckless, cowardly act of violence that has taken two lives and altered many, many more,” Scott said. “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.”
Just three days into the month, it is one of five mass shootings in July and one of 340 mass shootings in the US in 2023, 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.
“These weapons come from Virginia, they come from Texas, they come from Florida, they come from Alabama, they come from everywhere in this country,” Scott said.
“We have to deal with this issue of guns and the flow of illegal guns into the hands of people who should not have them at the national level,” he added.
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.
Gunfire shatters community festivity
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 added.
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.
The mayor said his office is 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 that 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.
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