A 16-year-old boy has died and four other teenage boys were injured in a mass shooting at the Edmondson Village Shopping Center on Wednesday morning, the third shooting of the morning and the second one with multiple gunshot victims.
The shooting took place outside the Popeyes in the shopping center, which is across the street from the Edmondson-Westside High School along the busy Route 40 corridor in West Baltimore. The shooting involved five students who were on lunch break, officials said. In addition to the 16-year-old male who was fatally shot, two 17-year-old males and two 18-year-old males were wounded. On Thursday morning, police named the 16-year-old as Deanta Dorsey.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at a press conference that investigators believe two shooters opened fire on the group as they stood in front of the restaurant.
The school was placed on lockdown shortly after the shooting.
Baltimore City Public Schools said the families of the five student victims have been notified. Students at the school were dismissed at the normal time of 2:50 p.m., but all after-school activities and sports were canceled, the school system said.
UPDATE: Students will be released at the normal dismissal time, 2:50. All after school and sports activities for this afternoon (January, 4) at Edmondson-Westside have been canceled. Families of the five students have been notified. https://t.co/VJslYEMAFA— Baltimore City Public Schools (@BaltCitySchools) January 4, 2023
Classes are canceled Thursday, according to a letter sent home to parents, and students and staff can go to the school to receive counseling. Lunch will also be provided to students starting at 11:30 a.m.
Harrison said the shooting did not occur during a school activity. A Baltimore police officer had just left the shopping center to check on an incident two blocks away when the shooting broke out, Harrison said. She quickly returned and was first to arrive at the scene about 11:18 a.m., police said.
“We have had issues here in this mall for a long time. The officer was given guidance to patrol, and the officer was doing just that,” Harrison said.
Mayor Brandon Scott and Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, who represents the area, said businesses in the shopping center have been asked not to serve students during school hours.
Baltimore has a daytime curfew for anyone younger than 16 at businesses and public places during school days, between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., according to a copy of the policy posted on the police department’s website.
Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises said Edmondson-Westside’s principal, Karl Perry, had asked businesses around the school not to serve any students during school hours because students tend to be less safe if they leave campus.
In addition, a school counselor who lives in the community had gone to each business and asked them not to serve students.
Perry also put up a lot of benches outside the school for students to eat lunch, Santelises said.
Kasean Venable, a junior at Edmondson-Westside, said students are advised not to go to the shopping center, but they do it anyway.
Richard Jones, a 1996 graduate of Edmondson-Westside and the father of a current student, said despite signs in some businesses saying they will not serve students during school hours, they do.
”The blame should be on the school system and the business owners ... something needs to be done because the students need to be safe over there,” Jones said.
Joyous Jones, 61, secretary of the Edmondson Village Community Association and a longtime resident, said gun violence in the neighborhood has “worsened” over the years.
”Those children should have not been allowed outside the school,” she said.
Jones said there have been several meetings with school officials and police about students leaving Edmondson-Westside during the daytime.
”The kids keep coming because the businesses still want money and they’re not enforcing the curfew policy that is in place,” said Jones, whose two great nephews attend the school.
But Susan Wang, an employee at Royal Carryout in the shopping center, said she checks every ID.
“We don’t serve anyone under 16 before 3 p.m.,” Wang said. “Not many come in anymore.”
Edmondson-Westside High School is a career technology high school in two buildings — one of them is the main school, and the other is the Westside Skill Center next door. Students get training in a career track at the skill center, as well as through internships during the day. So unlike some comprehensive high schools where students stay all day, Edmondson students sometimes leave for work experiences.
At the school, counseling for students was set up inside the library. Some students were crying and others had not yet processed what had happened.
Santelises said the looks on faces “says we as adults have got to understand the long term generational impact of this kind of violence on our young people.” She told people that “it is OK not to be OK. That this is not normal.”
Looking angry, she said, “It’s frustrating to have staff members who have to attend to wounded young people who they teach, serve, lead and support during the school day.”
Shortly after the media briefing with Scott, Burnett and Harrison, frustration boiled over when the councilman got into a confrontation with a man in a gray sweater and burgundy pants who approached him.
The two men shouted at each other before being separated by police and spectators.
”What they doing ain’t helping our kids,” said the man, who declined to give his name.
”And what you doing about it?” Burnett responded. “Are you fighting for all this?”
In a statement Wednesday night, Burnett said he “reacted with anger and out of sadness” during the encounter.
“To my constituents, know that I am as committed as ever to Edmondson Village and the entire 8th District, doing all I can as your elected official to help stem the flow of violence in our community,” he said. “I will continue to fight for our young people to have more opportunities; to get illegal guns off the streets, and out of the hands of those who perpetuate violence in our city.”
The Edmondson Village Shopping Center first opened in 1947 and features a large, two-level parking lot and a Colonial Williamsburg-inspired aesthetic. The center neighbors several communities, including Rognel Heights and Hunting Ridge.
The center has experienced several damaging fires in recent years — 2019 and 2021 — that led to the removal of parts of a building and some store renovations. Several residents said they’d like to see a complete renovation of the shopping center, but many were unaware of a 1945 covenant that restricts the shopping center and other neighboring parcels of land.
Currently, a Chicago-based developer has a contract to purchase the shopping center, but it’s under the condition that certain parts of the covenant are amended.
Earlier on Wednesday, two shootings occurred within minutes of each other in different parts of the city. At about 9:23 a.m., a 27-year-old woman was shot in the 2700 block of Spelman Road in Cherry Hill while driving her vehicle, according to police.
About a minute later, at 9:24 a.m., police were responding to the 3200 block of Pulaski Highway, northeast of Patterson Park, where they located a 55-year-old man with a gunshot wound who was in stable condition. Officers located a second victim nearby in the 100 block of North Clinton Street. That person’s condition is critical. Police said the location of the second shooting was the 300 block of Loneys Lane.
Baltimore Banner staff writers Jasmine Vaughn-Hall and Liz Bowie contributed to this report.