Eighteen-year-old Aaliyah Gonzalez and 20-year-old Kylis Fagbemi were killed and 28 people were wounded in the early hours of July 2 following a daylong gathering in the Brooklyn Homes public housing complex. The Baltimore Sun reported that the Baltimore Police Department responded to multiple shooting reports at about 12:35 a.m. Sunday in the 800 block of Gretna Court.
“A night that began as a boisterous block party — a quasi-family reunion for current and former neighbors — became a sprawling crime scene for what likely was the largest mass shooting in Baltimore history. In total, 30 people were shot, most of them teenagers,” The Sun reported.
The “Brooklyn Day” event where the young people were killed has been held, according to The Sun, for almost three decades. There were hundreds of people in attendance. The incident quickly made national and international headlines. In its aftermath, city and state officials made sure to make shows of visible support.
A joint statement issued by Mayor Brandon Scott, the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, and the Baltimore Police Department blamed the incident on illegal guns.
“This tragedy again shows why we must continue to focus on the amount of illegal guns on our streets that make it into the hands of individuals who should not have them and continuously carry out violent acts in our city,” city officials said. “There must be accountability at each level of the illegal gun trade from those using them, those trafficking them to those who manufacture them in ways they know will lead to violence.
The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and other city agencies have also flooded the area with resources like fresh produce, mental health counseling, and wraparound supports.
On the Fourth of July, Governor Wes Moore traveled to Baltimore to meet with community members. In a statement released the following day, he linked the gun violence here in Baltimore with another mass shooting event that happened on July 5 in Salisbury, Maryland.
“These incidents show that this scourge of gun violence is not something that any one community or any one group is wrestling with,” the statement read. “Whether you live in a big city or a small rural town, these tragedies impact all of us.”
However, leaders are also facing intense scrutiny following the incident. Initially, acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley said that the party wasn’t permitted and that police were caught unaware by the incident.
Local media spent the days after the shooting scrutinizing police scanner transmissions, and what they found calls that assertion into question.
“The scanner transmissions confirm accounts given by many residents, who say they were calling police frantically, but got no response until gunshots rang out in the streets about 12:30 a.m.,” Baltimore Brew reported.
Other dispatches Baltimore Brew found: “A Southern District dispatcher told officers about ‘armed people’ as early as 9:45 p.m., but no concrete steps were taken to respond or investigate. One officer joked that the dispatcher should redirect the call ‘to the National Guard,’ while another remarked, ‘They say everybody got a gun or a knife.’”
“A tragic reminder that cops are under no legal or ethical obligation to keep you safe from harm,” activist group Organizing Black tweeted about the story. The group has organized actions to decrease funding to the Baltimore Police Department, arguing that diverting that money to other community resources would do a better job of improving safety in the city. “Community members often do way more than cops to intervene when there’s violence.”
“Police wouldn’t have protected anybody if they had been there that day,” artist, activist, and former NFL football player Aaron Maybin said in a video with his thoughts on the incident. “Police respond to crimes when they have already been committed. They don’t prevent them from happening, especially not to Black folks like us,” he said.
“We keep taking resources away from these communities that need them most desperately and we’re surprised that is happening when we decide to put them back too late,” Maybin said.
By July 7, the BPD said they had arrested a 17-year-old suspect in connection to the incident. The teen is charged with possession of a firearm by a minor, assault weapon possession, reckless endangerment, and handgun in vehicle.
Police are asking anyone with information to contact homicide detectives at 410-396-2100. There is up to a $28,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest and charges.
The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is also encouraging residents needing direct support to reach out to them by phone at 410-929-5488 or via email at MONSE.VictimSupport@baltimorecity.gov.