Malik Ahmad was at work Friday night at the Pizza Boli’s on the corner of West North Avenue and North Rosedale Street in West Baltimore when a group of teens rushed in.
A girl, whom he estimated to be 16 or 17 years old, was bleeding, said Ahmad, 55. Once inside, she realized she had been shot.
“Oh my God!” Ahmad recalled her say. “I got hit.”
Further down the block in the Walbrook neighborhood, she and six other people had been injured by gunfire during a brazen drive-by shooting, police have said. Among the victims were four teenagers.
Many were taken to area hospitals for treatment. Police said Saturday a 19-year-old man is in critical condition, while the other victims injuries were described as non life-threatening.
A 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old girl, 19-year-old and 26-year-old women and 22-year-old and 36-year-old men sustained injuries. Police on Friday night originally said four teenage girls were shot, but corrected their ages Saturday morning.
Officers were called to the 3100 block of W. North Ave. just before 10 p.m. for a shooting, according to police. When they arrived, they found some of the people who’d been shot.
Police said Friday night five victims were transported to area hospitals for treatment.
By Saturday morning, detectives learned that a silver Ford Explorer drove through the block while someone from the vehicle opened fired on a group of people, police said.
On Saturday, the block showed signs of damage from gunfire and stories of gun violence surfaced. Meanwhile, police officers patrolled the street on foot and in their cruisers.
Pizza Boli’s owner Musa Abbas, 21, expressed frustration about the violence.
He said there was another drive-by attempt approximately two weeks ago where a car endured the barrage of bullets, sparing any people from injuries. Abbas also described seeing dead bodies at the storefront. The store’s front windows still have damages from a shooting about a year ago. He worried about the impacts of the violence on the community.
“It needs to stop,” Abbas said. “Every day, there’s a shooting.”
Down the street an employee pointed out bullet holes at the Big Apple Mart. He declined to be identified, citing safety concerns, but said that damage resulted from the shooting Friday night.
It appeared as though a projectile pierced the glass front door and a glass cabinet within the convenience store. Outside, a busted brick had a small, cylindrical hole. The top of a narrow strip of metal appeared to be damaged, leaving a jagged edge.
Not far away from the damage Saturday was Nathaniel Montgomery, 41. He lives in East Baltimore but frequents this block because his uncle manages a store there. He was alarmed to learn four women had been shot.
“I was shocked when I heard about it because for a while everything was going cool,” Montgomery said, saying there had appeared to be no active beefs amongst the young men who frequent this block at night. The strip features a church, a beauty salon, a burger joint and liquor store.
“It’s disappointing because people earn their living up here,” he said.
Michael Booth, 52, was home sleeping by the time gunfire erupted Friday night. He learned about the drive-by from a reporter, though he was hardly surprised. And the fact he wasn’t surprised was disappointing to him.
“It ain’t really scary because every day it occurs. Once you get immune to it, you grow up around it so much, they don’t phase you,” Booth said.
As Booth continued, the familiar conversation evoked emotions. He said he’s witnessed gun violence before, and has been shot at himself.
“It just makes me angry,” he said. “It used to give me nightmares, but the nightmares fade away. After a while, it just becomes normal.”
Booth looked down North Avenue. He’s frustrated because he believes city officials only show up in the neighborhood after shootings. He wants to see job fairs, new playgrounds and more investment. He expects more tragedies until there’s serious change.
“It bums me out, but what you gonna do?” Booth said. “Just try to keep pushing forward.”