BALTIMORE – There was more chaos, confusion and anger Monday afternoon on the streets of Baltimore, spurred by a shooting incident at the scene of last week’s unrest over Freddie Gray’s death.
Baltimore Police Lt. Col. Melvin Russell told reporters that the situation unraveled after surveillance footage captured a black man on Pennsylvania and North Avenues with a handgun. The man fled from police, Russell said, when he accidentally lost control of the gun and it discharged.
Police never fired at the man, and he sustained “no injuries whatsoever,” Russell said. Medics came to the scene, and though the man at first resisted medical attention, he was eventually taken to Maryland General hospital. The man was arrested on a gun charge and brought to the hospital “out of an abundance of caution,” Baltimore police Sgt. Jarron Jackson said, according to the Baltimore Sun.
James Carter, who was working at a Metro PCS store just steps from the scene, said he heard a gunshot ring out in the street. Carter stood frozen in the shop, waiting for a second gunshot that never came.
“I thought, oh Lord, not again,” Carter told msnbc.
Carter then ran out of the shop, cell phone in hand, and began filming the aftermath. There, he recorded a Baltimore police officer standing above a revolver on the sidewalk. The street was in chaos as bystanders and police officers rushed to where a man was lying on the street handcuffed, Carter said.
“He looked like he was shot,” Carter said of the man handcuffed on the ground. “He was not dead. I watched him go in the ambulance. He was hollering.”
Another witness at the scene told Carter he heard police warn the man with the gun to “freeze” three times. Then the gunshot rang out.
As police cleared the scene, officers were recorded on tape spraying chemical agents on the bystanders to disperse the crowd. The nozzle of the spray was just inches away from one man’s face when the orange spray sailed into his eyes. The crowd was irate.
The shooting comes a week after uprisings broke out at the same intersection amid public outrage over Gray, who was killed last month while in police custody. With the busted-in windows of the looted CVS now boarded up, residents appeared eager to move forward from the unrest and begin to rebuild the community. But many said that incidents like the shooting that afternoon are not uncommon in these parts of Baltimore.
Byron Haley, who has lived in Baltimore for more than a decade, said he rushed to the scene after hearing the gunshot Monday. There, many angered bystanders confronted the police on the scene, initially believing that the man in custody was shot by the officers. The crowd was irate as police called for backup that would soon arrive.
Haley said he saw the man handcuffed, on the ground, appearing injured but breathing heavily. Meanwhile police were overwhelmed, focusing efforts on clearing the crowd rather than attending to the man in their custody, Haley said.
“They didn’t show concern of his health,” he said of the officers on the scene. “The police instead were spraying Mace on the crowd.”