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Crime & Justiceby Mark Reutter7:14 amJul 7, 20230

Police knew about guns, knives and injuries hours before mass shooting, but decided “we’re not going in the crowd”

A timeline of radio transmissions shows that even though the Brooklyn Day party was clearly spiraling out of control, Baltimore Police took no action until it was too late

Above: Police cordon off Brooklyn Homes last Sunday morning after a mass shooting left 28 people injured and two dead. (@BaltimorePolice)

In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in recent Baltimore history last Sunday, police have offered an explanation for why they weren’t patrolling the event.

If only the BPD had more time, Acting Police Commissioner Richard Worley told reporters on Monday, “we could have put a plan in effect, something like last year, if we had known it was coming.”

Worley also said: “By the time we got there, the incident had already occurred.”

His assertion doesn’t jibe with police scanner transmissions which show that hours before gunshots left two people dead and 28 injured, police were receiving 911 calls for help and were well aware the crowd had swelled to 700-800 people and the “Brooklyn Day” party was spinning out of control.

A Southern District dispatcher told officers about “armed people” as early as 9:45 p.m., but no concrete steps were taken to respond or investigate.

One officer joked that the dispatcher should redirect the call “to the National Guard,” while another remarked, “They say everybody got a gun or a knife.”

At 10:24 p.m., or two hours before the mass shooting, the dispatcher passed along an address and said, “People fighting and shooting at the location.”

To which an officer replied, “We’re not going in the crowd.”

The 800 block of Gretna Court with (at left) the fence a resident says was erected after the weekend shooting. (Fern Shen)

The 800 block of Gretna Court, ground zero of the July 2 mass shootings, as it looked the next day. (Fern Shen)

“Anything suspicious?” “Nah.”

The scanner transmissions confirm accounts given by many residents, who say they were calling police frantically, but got no response until gunshots rang out in the streets about 12:30 a.m.

The Brew requested the Southern District dispatch audio earlier this week, but police said the scanner transmissions were not available.

“We are working on requests,” said spokesperson Lindsey Eldridge, without offering any date for a possible release.

Turning to Broadcastify/RadioReference.com platform, The Brew reviewed five hours of Southern District audio stream from the period before, during and after the shooting.

It indicates that, at most, one or two officers observed the crowd from a distance before the shootings (making no arrests), while a sergeant relied on the Foxtrot police helicopter to provide flyby intelligence.

At most, one or two officers observed the crowd from a distance, while a sergeant relied on the Foxtrot helicopter to provide flyby intelligence.

The sergeant asked Foxtrot for a head count of the crowd sprawled among the parking lots and narrow alleys of the Brooklyn Homes public housing complex.

Saying they had gotten 911 calls about “discharging firearms” in the area, he asked if anything looked suspicious.

“Nah. Negative,” the pilot said. All he saw were “fireworks” going off, and “approximately 700 people . . . just walking around, hanging out.”

Prelude – “Everything appears to be normal”

Here are some key Southern District scanner exchanges before the shootings:

9:45 PM, Saturday, July 1

“Priority call” to night-shift officers: Hundreds of armed people reported at 819 Gretna.
Officer to dispatcher: You may have to redirect that call to the National Guard.
Dispatcher: 10-4. Hmm.

10:05 PM

Dispatcher to officer: Do you have any units coming after that armed person, 819 Gretna Court?
Officer: It’s going to be kinda hard because it looks like I have 800-900 people out here.
Dispatcher: OK, it’s crowded up there, huh?
Officer: They’re having a large party, roughly about 800-900 people. They say everybody got a gun or a knife.

10:22 PM

Dispatcher to officer: I’m getting a discharging a firearm at 815 Herndon Court. People fighting and shooting at the location. Anonymous caller.
Officer: Foxtrot is overhead. We’re not going in the crowd.

10:23 – 10:28 PM

Sergeant to Foxtrot: Do me a favor, if you can. Fly around Gretna Court in Brooklyn Homes and let us know how far this crowd goes back. It’s a big crowd.
Foxtrot to sergeant: Hey, Sarge, we have approximately 700 people at this location.
Sarge to Foxtrot: Hey, we got call for discharging in that area. Anything look suspicious?
Foxtrot: Nah, negative. A lot of fireworks being discharged that’s still actually going off right now. As far as the group on-inside the Brooklyn Homes, everything appears to be normal right now. Just walking around, hanging out.

10:30 PM

Officer to dispatcher: Call for discharging at 800 Clintwood. I believe there’s just one call?
No response.

10:31 PM

Foxtrot to Sarge: Just sent you some pictures, sir. They’re still doing fireworks, so I’m going to break off briefly for the Eastern [District].
Sarge: 10-4. Appreciate it. They’re running around, shooting them off everywhere.

On 10th Street, a sign that says

“Brooklyn Homes, A Housing Authority of Baltimore City Community,” says the sign on 10th Street, two blocks away from the center of Sunday’s carnage. (Fern Shen)

11:27 PM

Dispatcher to officer: I need you to start responding to 4101 Cleve Court, so we don’t get a Signal 40 [fire department needs assistance]. Have multiple calls here from the medics in regards to a 13-year-old [inaudible] patient. There’s a crowd forming around the medics right now.

Officer: What do you got at Cleve Court?

Dispatcher: Just trying to get units there before it turns into a Signal 40. It involves a 13-year-old with medics at the location. They say the crowds are forming around them and starting to fight.

Unclear from the audio if and when the officer arrives at Cleve Court.

11:40 PM – 12:15 AM

At least three Southern officers and Foxtrot engage in an extended car chase across many blocks of Brooklyn, in pursuit of a stolen black Kia “with a busted-out window.” It ends with the suspect apprehended fleeing on foot on Washburn Avenue.

During the chase, there was no chatter about the swelling crowds at Brooklyn Homes – just six blocks away from the Washburn arrest – where fights had broken out and gunshots were being fired, according to residents.

At left, the back yards of Glade Court. At right, Clintwood Court. (Fern Shen)

Clintwood Court, where bullets rang out on July 2, was clean and tidy the following day. (Fern Shen)

Shooting Aftermath – “We don’t have control of the scene”

At 12:33 a.m., police were dispatched to Brooklyn Homes, responding to reports of widespread gunfire and wounded people.

They were met by hundreds of panicked partygoers, crying mothers, screaming children, bullet-scarred cars and blood splattered on streets and sidewalks.

Police located about a dozen wounded people, including 18-year-old Aaliyah Gonzales, fatally shot at Gretna Court, and 20-year-old Kylis Fagbemi, who would later die in the hospital.

Fire department medics transported nine victims to area hospitals, while 20 more walked into the hospitals with gunshot wounds.

Altogether, police say 30 people were shot – 20 of them between the ages of 13 and 18 – by firearms wielded by two or more assailants that police have not yet apprehended.

Here are excerpts from officers, supervisors and others heard on the scanner, often accompanied by sobs and shouts, sirens and beeping phones in the background:

12:35 – 1:30 AM Sunday, July 2

Adam 10, Adam 10. Sir, you OK? You at Gretna Court?

Sorry, I’m not over there yet. But I will go over there. I just heard [about the shootings].

We got three calls for a shooting at Gretna Court. Two calls at 800 block Herndon Court, and one call at 4111 Cleve Court.

Be advised, another shooting at 805 Gretna Court. Caller says his sister was shot.

Caller says the woman is still breathing. They are administering CPR. That location is going to be 801 Gretna Court.

We’re going to need a bunch of them [police] down here to help with that crowd.

Be advised, another adult female shot in the left leg.

I need medics here!

10-4. Still calling the medics.

Signal 13. Signal 13 [officer in need of assistance]. In regard to fatals at Gretna Court. Time is now double zero forty one [12:41 am].

I got two females. I need a medic. Can we get more units from other districts?

We need people here!

Try to stay together as best you can. Protect each other’s backs.

“Can we get Anne Arundel County for mutual aid, please?”
“I make that decision. We’re not calling mutual aid right now.”

8th and Stoll [streets], 8th and Jack streets – appears [to be] at least 3 victims.

For the record, we don’t have control of the scene! We don’t have control of the scene!

Unit 8, where is the command post for this incident?

Will set up a command post shortly here. At 8th and 6th streets.

One shot in back and another in hip on Gretna.

You have all these people walk[ing] through this crime scene. I don’t have any cops here.

Another gunshot wound victim, 318 Clintwood Court. Unconscious, unresponsive.

Can we get Anne Arundel County for mutual aid, please.

I make that decision. We’re not calling mutual aid right now.

On Pontiac Street, Brooklyn Homes residents walk at the head of a community walk through organized by the group We Our Us. (Fern Shen)

Brooklyn Homes residents lead a community walk, organized by We Our Us, on Pontiac Avenue the day after the shooting. (Fern Shen)

Kylis Fagbemi, 20, and Aaliyah Gonzalez, 18, who died as a result of the July 2 Brooklyn Homes shooting. (@BaltimorePolice)

Kylis Fagbemi, 20, and Aaliyah Gonzalez, 18, died in the July 2 Brooklyn Homes shootings. (@BaltimorePolice)

Prior Brew Coverage

Sobs and a search for answers after a mass shooting in Brooklyn leaves two dead and 28 injured (7/2/23)

Multiple agencies, including her own office, should have known South Baltimore party needed policing, councilwoman says (7/3/23)

Housing authority, MONSE and mayor deflect blame in wake of Baltimore mass shooting (7/4/23)

• To reach a reporter: reuttermark@yahoo.com

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