Olszewski pledges additional security in Towson after fatal shooting of 17-year-old

Published 2/22/2023 9:37 p.m. EST, Updated 2/23/2023 8:22 a.m. EST

County Executive Johnny Olszewski, BCoPD Chief Dennis Delp, and Towson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Hafford hold a press conference with police officials and Towson-area stakeholders before doing a public safety walk down York Road and Allegheny Avenue, visiting businesses along the way on February 22, 2023.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. on Wednesday pledged additional security measures in downtown Towson during a public safety walk that came two days after a 17-year-old boy was shot and killed.

Olszewski, who was joined on the walk by police and community leaders, said the county is looking to acquire a new license plate reader and is going to add additional security cameras “in strategic locations so that folks know we are omnipresent, and we are watching what’s happening in our corridors here in Towson.”

The county police department will also deploy more foot patrols in the area, said Interim Police Chief Dennis Delp. Officials will also have conversations about adding more lighting “to make sure this remains a safe place to live, and work and raise a family,” Olszewski said.

Police said 17-yera-old Tre’shaun Harmon was fatally shot Monday night less than half a mile from the Towson Town Center on East Joppa Road and Delaware Avenue.

A few weeks earlier, on Feb. 2, police said more than one victim was robbed and sexually assaulted near the traffic circle where York Road, Dulaney Valley Road, Joppa Road and Allegheny Avenue converge. Police arrested and charged 28-year-old Quantze Davis several days later on multiple counts of first-degree rape, assault and armed robbery, Baltimore County Police said in a release.

Around 6 p.m., Olszewski, along with Councilman Mike Ertel, Capt. Sam Houston of the Towson precinct, and other community leaders on the walk stopped at Barley’s Backyard Uptown to speak with co-owner Jill Packo, who said she appreciated the responsiveness and quick work of the Police Department.

It means a lot, Packo added, that county leaders came out to talk to businesses in the area following the incidents.

“You don’t get that anywhere,” she said.

As most of the group moved on, Olszewski hung back. “I’m so grateful,” Packo told him, shaking his hand.

The group continued up York Road, past Towson Tavern Restaurant and Sweetgreen, across the traffic circle near the mall and up Allegheny Avenue. While many attendees were members of the media, a few residents and others also attended.

At one point, Towson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Hafford stopped the group to point out a sticker posted on a business’ front door that said, “You’re on camera. Smile.” Earlier, she said county leaders had worked with businesses to add 50 new cameras to 50 buildings in the area over the last several months.

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Towson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Hafford points at a security sticker on a business door during a public safety walk down York Road and Allegheny Avenue, visiting businesses along the way on February 22, 2023.

The walk ended on Washington Avenue in front of the county executive’s office.

Though the recent violent incidents have prompted discussion and concern in the area, some people working in nearby businesses said they were happy with how police and county leaders have responded.

“It’s been a little bit scary, but they have immediately acted on it,” said Jenni Lau, owner of Chatime, a bubble tea shop. When a shooting occurred across the street, Lau heard the gunshots, she said.

But, she recalled, police came into the store shortly after to talk with her and ask about security footage. She also thought leaders did a good job communicating the next steps they are taking to increase security.

Hydia Garrison, a supervisor at Insomnia Cookies, feels more needs to be done. She said recent incidents have made her become more aware of her surroundings at night.

“When I first started working here,” she said, “I thought it was a safe area.”

In nearby Blaze Pizza, employee Theodore Hughes, a senior at Towson University, said he doesn’t personally feel scared, but other students he knows are. His girlfriend’s sorority moved a chapter meeting online recently due to the shooting.

He wonders if the recent incidents will deter some students, particularly those from out of state, from coming to the school.