An act of road rage left a 2-year-old boy with a gunshot wound in the stomach Saturday at Baltimore, a shooting emblematic of the city’s entrenched gun culture, which has already claimed over 260 lives and left 620 individuals injured this year.
At a news conference hours after the shooting, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said that the boy was in “somewhat stable condition” and was expected to live. Harrison said the suspect remained at large and he asked the man to willingly surrender to authorities.
“Whoever you are, please turn yourself in. You shot a child. Whoever you thought you were shooting at, you didn’t shoot. You shot a child,” Harrison said. He added he understands many in the community share his “outrage” and asked for their help in identifying the suspect, whom he described as a heavy set black guy with dreadlocks.
Police believe the boy was in a car that honked the horn many times at vehicles that wouldn’t move when the light turned green in an intersection in central Baltimore. The vehicle with the boy then drove around the stopped vehicles and turned the corner. Harrison said a grey or silver minivan then caught up to the vehicle with the child and the driver fired his weapon.
Police were notified when the boy was taken to a hospital. Officers had responded to the place where the shooting occurred around 12:30 a.m. after receiving an alert from the town’s automatic gunshot detection system, however they didn’t find a victim or suspect.
Harrison said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering a $15,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. He said police are using “every tool in the toolbox” to identify the defendant.
Baltimore, a once-thriving American seaport, has incontrovertible drug and violent crime challenges. It saw some small success in reducing its violent crime scourge in 2018, but nevertheless exceeded 300 yearly homicides for the fourth year in a row. In 2017, the 342 homicides in the city of approximately 612,000 inhabitants afforded a punishing homicide rate of 56 per 100,000 people, a rate the FBI predicted well above that of another large U.S. city.
Harrison said the boy’s shooting is a good example of the city’s “culture of violence” where people wish to settle their own disputes.
“The decision to use the gun is not made when you use it; it is made when you walk away from home with it. You’ve decided that if I need it, I’ll use it,” he explained. “This is another example of that. We have to overcome people deciding to carry guns because when you carry guns, you’ll use it when the time presents itself.”
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