Just hours after family members gathered at a news conference to support an investigation into the murder of 16-year-old Deanta Dorsey, someone shot up their home in Baltimore early Saturday, their attorney said.
Thiru Vignarajah, the family’s attorney, said four or five gunshots were fired into the home after midnight. No one was hurt, but several children were inside. Within hours, the family moved into police protection, Vignarajah said.
It’s not immediately known whether the shooting was an attempt to silence the family as police search for additional suspects.
Deanta Dorsey, a sophomore at Edmondson-Westside High School, was shot and killed on Jan. 4 when gunmen opened fire on a crowd of students at Popeyes, across from the high school. The students had gathered there during their lunch break at the Edmondson Village Shopping Center. Four other teens were shot and wounded. Authorities have offered no motive for the attack.
Baltimore Police were called to the family’s home at 1:45 a.m. Saturday and found what appeared to be multiple bullet holes, a department spokesman said. Vignarajah appeared at the shopping center Monday to speak about the attack on their home.
“This is extremely troubling,” he said. “There were 11 people and four children in the home at the time of the shooting, many of them were awake. They’re scared, but they’re not going to be intimidated.”
Police have not directly connected the incidents, but the timing is conspicuous, Vignarajah said, adding that several bullets struck the home — including through a window and the front door.
“The family is incredibly alarmed and very upset,” Vignarajah said. “They know that their to priority is to keep themselves safe.”
He also said authorities should have put the family into protection sooner.
“The Dorsey family has been seeking relocation since shortly after the funeral, and it shouldn’t take this long,” Vignarajah said. “They are frustrated.”
His remarks set off an exchange with the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office. The office responded Monday and faulted Vignarajah for holding a press conference with the family last week while the second gunman remains on the streets.
“We are quite concerned at the lack of care the family’s attorney has shown for their safety. At the press conference on Friday, he stated there remained a suspect at-large but still had the family on display, demonstrating little to no concern for their safety,” spokesman James Bentley wrote in an email.
Bentley noted the office remains committed to keeping victims and their families safe. “We are sincerely saddened and disgusted at the reported shameless attack on the family of Deanta Dorsey.”
That prompted yet another response from Vignarajah and the Dorsey family. Vignarajah arranged a phone call later Monday with Dorsey’s aunt and news reporters.
“My family and I are very disappointed by the state’s attorney’s comments, especially since,” she paused, crying, “this is the first time we’ve heard from him. If we want to speak to the public, we will.”
Dorsey’s aunt asked for anonymity out of concern for her safety. She was not in the house during the shooting and declined questions.
“Today of all days is not the time to attack our family. We have been through enough,” she said. “We have stood strong since day one and we will not be intimidated into silence by anyone.”
The killing of Dorsey left students and teachers shaken. After the gunshots rang out, an administrator and school police officer ran to help the wounded students. The administrator bent over the sophomore and gave him CPR. The officer tried to help the others until paramedics arrived.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said investigators believe two gunmen opened fire on the students.
On Thursday, police announced they arrested a 16-year-old and charged him with murdering Dorsey. On Friday, a Baltimore district judge ordered the teen held without bail and noted the young man was on juvenile probation for a previous gun charge at the time of the shooting.
Police continue to search for the second gunman.
In Baltimore, police and prosecutors have long been hindered by a culture of witness intimidation. Former Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby often called the city the home of “stop snitching” culture.
In years past, prosecutors have said more than one-third of criminal cases they drop are dismissed because victims and witnesses won’t cooperate. The problem traces back to a DVD that became popular on the streets and warned people not to help the police.