Morgan State University postponed its homecoming football game, called off additional celebrations and canceled classes for the rest of the week after five people were shot Tuesday night on the campus, university officials said Wednesday afternoon.
After a night that left the university quiet on Wednesday with no classes, university leaders spent the day deciding which homecoming events to host for the remainder of the week, and how they would approach them.
Ultimately, all activities, including the homecoming concert, silent headphones party, pep rally, parade and all other on campus events have been called off. The homecoming football game and the university’s 39th Annual Homecoming Gala, have been moved to a later date, which has not been announced.
“It is with great consternation that I deliver this message to our University community following the most unfortunate of events that occurred on our campus last evening,” University President David Wilson wrote in a message to students, faculty, parents and alumni Wednesday evening. “On behalf of our entire Morgan community, including our Board of Regents, my administrative team, faculty and staff, we extend our thoughts and prayers to those students injured in this heinous act of violence. Their care and recovery are a top priority.”
Four men and one woman, between the ages 18 to 22, were wounded in the shooting. Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley said at a Wednesday morning press conference it likely stemmed from a dispute between “two smaller groups.”
Authorities do not have reason to believe at this time that the shooting was racially motivated, Mayor Brandon Scott said.
Multiple people had guns on the scene and the department is still waiting on ballistics tests to determine how many weapons were actually fired, Worley said. A pair of armed people likely intended to shoot one person, but police do not believe the targeted person was hit.
Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said the state has offered resources to help the university, city and federal officials responding to and investigating the shooting at the “national treasure” — an honorific given to the historically Black university in Northeast Baltimore by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Moore opened a meeting of the state’s Board of Public Works on Wednesday morning in Annapolis speaking about the shooting.
“Unfortunately, because of the actions of last night, some of them are now recovering in a hospital with gunshot wounds,” Moore said. “We, as a society, we cannot allow this to stand because if we allow this to stand, we’re all going to fall.”
The governor, who attended last year’s homecoming events and gave a graduation speech in December, lamented that he once again found himself addressing an act of gun violence involving young people, adding that “the very real issue of why it’s so easy for people to get their hands on firearms” needs to be addressed as well as why people are “willing to pull the trigger at another human being.”
“We have offered and will continue to offer every state resource available for both understanding and getting justice for what happened yesterday, and also dealing with the very real fact that Morgan State will have a healing process,” he said.
Maryland law already bans firearms from college campuses. When asked what more is needed, the Democrat said Maryland’s strong gun laws are only part of the solution.
”We have to make sure that those laws are being enforced,” Moore said after the Board of Public Works meeting. “We have to make sure we have the resources to bring closure to these crimes, and bring closure to these violent actions, and making sure that we’re stopping this pipeline, particularly when it comes to the illegal guns, that continue to flood into our neighborhoods.”
Congressman Kweisi Mfume, a former magna cum laude graduate of Morgan State University who serves as chairman of the university’s Board of Regents, issued a statement about what he called a “cowardly” act following the gun violence.
“Because of the cowardly acts of potentially multiple individuals with guns, the lives of innocent young people at Morgan State were gravely put at risk. It sickens all of us that no place is safe from this type of gun violence,” Mfume wrote in a release.
“Mass shootings in Baltimore and this flagrant disregard for human life will never be allowed to become the norm,” he added. “Be assured that the vicious criminal(s) responsible for this will be convicted, punished, and removed from our streets. We remain Morgan proud and Baltimore strong.”
In the statement, he thanked Scott and Worley, for quickly arriving on the scene and working very closely with Morgan Police Chief Lance Hatcher and the school’s police department.
At a press briefing Wednesday, Scott said his heart aches for the Morgan community and called the “horrific” act “a sickening reminder for all of us of how commonplace these incidents have become,” on university campuses and elsewhere.
The first-term Democrat argued Congress has to take steps to address a national gun violence epidemic and take guns off the streets of Baltimore. The mayor reported that both he and Wilson spoke about the shooting Wednesday morning with a newly formed office of gun violence prevention at the White House, Scott said.
At a hearing Wednesday of the City Council’s public safety committee, Councilwoman Odette Ramos, whose district includes part of the Morgan campus, said the city can’t rely on Congress to curb the flow of illegal firearms. She urged city and state officials to do more.
“Last night I was honored to play the role of trying to console and help people, but now I’m pissed,” she said.
Banner reporters Brenda Wintrode and Ben Conarck contributed to this story.