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Annapolis Leaders Seek Community's Help After Shooting Leaves Boy, 15, Paralyzed

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- A day after an Annapolis shooting injured three children, including a 15-year-old boy who was paralyzed, city officials and faith leaders called on the public Tuesday to share what they know.

It was the first of three reported shootings in the city in 24 hours, and each incident was within a three-mile radius.

"Last night, somebody's 15-year-old son was paralyzed from a gunshot. Somebody's daughter is traumatized and was lucky to survive," Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said. "We are asking people who know anything about this to come forward."

Standing alongside Police Chief Edward Jackson, Alderwoman Rhonda Charles and local faith leaders, Buckley said that the city is taking a social approach to crime, but he said violence like Monday's is unacceptable.

"We will find out who has done this," the mayor said. "It's not going to make it any better for the young man who's paralyzed, but we are bringing people to justice. They have to realize that this is not going to be tolerated in the city of Annapolis."

The shooting was reported about 7 p.m. Monday in the 1300 block of Tyler Avenue in the Robinwood community. A 15-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl were taken to area hospitals with gunshot wounds.

The girl is out of the hospital, but the boy remains hospitalized in stable condition. A third child, a 15-year-old girl who was hurt while running away from the gunfire, was treated and released from an area hospital.

Police suspect the shooter or shooters came out of some nearby woods and fired "indiscriminately" before fleeing back into the woods the same way they arrived.

"All I heard was shots that was really close, about eight or nine shots," a teen who escaped unscathed told WJZ. "Once I heard that, I dropped to the ground."

No arrests have been announced and no suspect information was released.

Annapolis Police are investigating two further reported shootings, Capt. Amy Miguez said.

About three hours after the two children were shot, officers responded at 10:05 p.m. to the 1900 block of Copeland Street for multiple reports of shots fired. There, they found shell casings but no victims or a suspect. One vehicle and two homes were struck.

The third reported shooting came Tuesday afternoon when officers responded at 1 p.m. to the unit block of Bens Drive for a reported shooting. Again, no victims or a suspect were found.

Miguez said police have not found a connection between the shootings, but that each incident is under investigation.

"We cannot become numb to daily gun violence," Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said in a tweet Tuesday.

Chief Jackson has expressed confidence in the abilities of his department's officers, whom he described as some of the most accomplished investigators in the country. But he said they cannot put an end to violence on their own.

"We need community to get more involved," Jackson said. "If you see something, say something. It's no way in hell that we should be comfortable with 11-year-olds and 15-year-olds being shot anywhere—not just the city of Annapolis, anywhere."

The police chief said the community cannot just count on the criminal justice system to prevent violence and hold people accountable—he said it's up to families, schools and faith-based institutions, too.

"We've got to make sure that when these kind of events happen, we all have to have this righteous indignation to say it won't be tolerated," Jackson said.

Bishop Craig Coates echoed the chief's remarks, saying two children's lives have been altered forever and their peers have been left traumatized. He called them victims of a war that "children should not have to fight."

"It is a war against our peace and safety in our communities. And the weapons of our enemy are not just guns. It's the ability to instill fear, so that we don't fight back," Coates said. "How do we fight back? Certainly not with guns but with a voice."

He said the people of Annapolis still have the ability to come together and rid their community of this problem. He said part of that effort involves understanding that your neighbor's child is also your child, and that it could have been them instead.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we still have yet the ability to fight back," Coates said. "And that is simply to refuse to allow our voices to be silenced."

Pastor Cheryl Menendez of World Family Ministries recalled how the community came together after a a young man was murdered in Robinwood about nine years ago. She said the effort took months but ultimately resulted in an arrest.

"Is anybody really tired? But are you tired enough to do something about it?" she said. "...Let's work together instead of just talk. After the lights are gone, after the cameras are gone, after the news media is gone, what are we going to do after that?"

Alderwoman Charles, a lifelong Annapolis resident, said the community is so close knit that people are often reluctant to come forward or turn someone in because they're a relative or classmate or longtime friend.

"I implore you, I beg you, all of you out there and here, if you know of someone who is engaging in this behavior, please call the authorities or call the pastors," she said. "They're here to help us."

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call 410-260-3439.

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