Mayor’s Office presents ROAR with award in recognition of their response to Brooklyn Homes mass shooting

ROAR Staff

November 2, 2023

A small group of people walking down outdoor stairs with serious expressions. One person is wearing a Baltimore shirt.

At the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement Summit (MONSE) first annual Victim Services Symposium On November 1, 2023, ROAR, along with several other of the city’s victims’ services organizations, received an award from the Mayor’s Office for their quick response to the mass shooting at Brooklyn Homes on July 2, 2023.

The mass shooting—the worst ever in Baltimore City—happened at a weekend block party attended by over 1,000 young people. 30 were shot, and two—Aaliyah Gonzalez and Kylis Fagbemi—were killed. 

In the days and weeks following this tragic event, there was widespread condemnation of the Baltimore Police Department’s lack of preparation and absence from the event. Community leaders demanded to know why there were no police officers there, even though the party was widely publicized in advance, with flyers at every resident’s door and countless mentions on social media. Even worse, once initial calls were made to 911 about guns present, no officers came to break up the party or diffuse tensions until after shots were fired.

Immediately following the mass shooting, MONSE Associate Director of Victim Services Mark Mason called on ROAR and related organizations to help set up an on-site resource center for the residents of Brooklyn Heights, virtually all of whom were traumatized by the sheer magnitude and devastation of the event. For the two weeks following the shooting, ROAR and other service agencies staffed this ad-hoc resource center with therapists, housing advisors, help with applications for victims’ compensation, and more.

Having all the organizations on-site together fostered creative problem-solving for the families living in Brooklyn Homes. For example, the mother of a teenage boy shooting victim needed a shower chair, new underwear for him (he had bled through all he had), wound bandaging, assistance filling out paperwork, and counseling for herself and her younger child. The relevant organizations worked together, with each agency filling the needs they could within their expertise and resources, meeting all of her son’s needs quickly and efficiently.

Reflecting on the events of the July 2 mass shooting and aftermath, ROAR Executive Director Lydia Watts said, “Sadly, there are shootings every day in Baltimore City which don’t get the media coverage and public outcry that a mass shooting elicits. The devastation from that one night was off the charts, and yet, for the people directly impacted, the devastation is just as real with every shooting, even when no one is shot. That happens multiple times every day. The city needs to do more to prevent gun violence and, when it does happen, help victims heal and recover.”