Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott on Monday said the city is doing everything in its power to prevent additional violence after 30 people were shot — two of them fatally — last weekend during a block party in Brooklyn.
“We won’t stop until we find those responsible and hold them accountable. We won’t,” Scott told reporters at a news conference at Baltimore Police Department Headquarters. “With that said, we need the help of our residents and anyone that knows anything to come forward and say something so we can bring those who are recklessly carrying out acts of violence like this to justice.”
The mass shooting happened after 12:30 a.m. on Sunday on Gretna Court in the Brooklyn Homes housing project and injured those ranging in age from 13 to 32. Police have identified the two people who were killed as Aaliyah Gonzalez, 18, and Kylis Fagbemi, 20.
Neighbors and some elected officials criticized the response from Baltimore Police as well as the role of Safe Streets, the city’s flagship gun violence reduction program. Scott said the focus should instead be on “a few people who cowardly decided to shoot up a big block party celebration for a community.”
“This is not just a Baltimore thing. We have to be honest,” Scott later said. “This is the United States of America. This is our longest-standing public health challenge.”
“We need to focus on gun violence, regardless of where it happens, right, whether it’s in inner-city Baltimore, whether it’s in suburbia, whether it’s in rural America, with the same vigor that we focused on another epidemic that we had a few years ago, a pandemic, in COVID-19,” he added.
Detectives will continue to pursue all leads and interview everyone who was injured in the mass shooting, acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley said.
Worley said law enforcement has only reviewed some video evidence. Police recovered “multiple weapons” and “multiple casings,” Worley said, but he declined to go into more detail.
“We are committed to doing a thorough investigation and identifying and apprehending and prosecuting these individuals held responsible for this chaotic incident and this horrific amount of violence,” Worley said. “I strongly urge anyone with any information to help us bring these individuals to justice.”
Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland is offering $28,000 for a tip that leads to an arrest and charges in the mass shooting, which happened at an annual community event called Brooklyn Day.
Though Brooklyn Day is an annual event, he said, it doesn’t always happen on the same weekend. In 2022, Worley said, police found out about the event three days in advance and were able to come up with an operations plan.
Worley said event organizers did not apply for a permit but also noted that “in the past, I don’t believe it was ever permitted.”
Law enforcement was proactively trying to find out the date but did not come across information on social media, Worley said. Police, he said, learned out about the block party several hours before the shooting. “We wouldn’t necessarily been able to stop it,” he said, “but we could have been there as a presence to deter any issues.”
“We knew it was coming,” Worley said. “We just didn’t know when.”
Sgt. Mike Mancuso, president of the Baltimore City Lodge No. 3 Fraternal Order of Police, previously told The Baltimore Banner that there had been seven police officers on patrol in the Southern District and that none of them were assigned to Brooklyn Day.
But Worley said “staffing was not an issue.” Police, he said, could have moved officers that were deployed in other parts of the city.
At the same time, Worley said, one police district could not handle a party of that size itself. Law enforcement could have asked for additional city resources, “but unfortunately, we didn’t get there in time to prevent what happened,” Worley said.
Stefanie Mavronis, interim director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, said victim services teams will remain at the Brooklyn Homes community center through Saturday as part of its response.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Mark Conway and Councilwoman Phylicia Porter said that the Public Safety and Government Operations Committee will hold a hearing on July 13 about the mass shooting.
“My colleagues and I have critical unanswered questions about how such a large event seems to have escaped the notice of authorities and what agencies like the police department and Housing Authority knew before and during this party,” Conway said in a statement. “We must learn from what went wrong here so that we can do everything in our power to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.”
On Twitter, Gov. Wes Moore wrote that public safety is his top priority.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their neighborhood,” Moore said. “To the victims and community reeling from the mass shooting in Baltimore, know that our state stands with you.”