Watch CBS News

'Just Trying To Survive': Baltimore squeegee workers say washing windows helps them overcome struggles

Baltimore's Squeegee Window Washers In The Spotlight After Last Week's Shooting
Baltimore's Squeegee Window Washers In The Spotlight After Last Week's Shooting 02:54

BALTIMORE -- Police told WJZ Tuesday their investigation into the killing of motorist Timothy Reynolds is "open and ongoing." Reynolds was shot and killed after he got out of his car last Thursday and approached squeegeers with a baseball bat.

Police said they have received "numerous tips" and are looking at several individuals but have not identified a suspect. 

WJZ spoke to several squeegee window washers in the wake of the deadly confrontation last week that placed them in the spotlight.

One window washer said, "If I come out at 8 o'clock, I can make $500" in a single day." He said the "fast money" is hard to replace. 

He has been washing windows for almost a decade, starting when he was just 15 years old.

"People don't see the struggle that we go through. Half of the people out on these streets, they don't have food at home," he said. "That's the reason we come out here."

They know some people are scared of them but feel even with job programs the city is putting in place, squeegeeing is their best option. 

"You're trying to survive in the wilderness with nothing." said another window washer. "You're just trying to survive. That's how I feel like Baltimore City is. You're just trying to survive. That's it."

They said they're careful not to damage cars.

"I walk past, I wave. You don't want me touching your car, it is what it is. I'm not going to touch your car," one squeegee worker said.

His friend noted, "If you get out with a bat, somebody is automatically going to think, 'self-defense.' I'm going to defend myself."

City Councilman Eric Costello said Monday the city has failed in its response. "As a government, we fail everyone here by allowing these circumstances to continue to occur. I again call on BPD leadership to ensure enforcement of the laws already on the books that prohibit this illegal activity immediately."

But Councilman Kristerfer Burnett called it "the same tired response that leaves young adults less employable when they are arrested on the corner than they were before the officer showed up."

Many who squeegee said they have noticed no change in police response and plan to stay on the corners until they are forced off or find a better way to make quick cash.

"It's you versus you. Nobody is going to help you on these streets but you," said one worker. 

There is still a $16,000 reward for information in the death of Reynolds. 

He was a father of three children, and an online fundraiser for his family has collected more than $35,000.

Police have maintained a constant presence at Light and Conway Streets where the incident happened and squeegee workers have yet to return to that corner.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.