Stolen futures: Baltimore faces uptick in youth violence

Mar 28, 2023, 3:02 AM

BALTIMORE (AP) — Decades after losing her older brother to gun violence, Michelle Hines tried everything to keep her teenage son safe: checking in regularly with his teachers, coordinating extracurricular activities, and most importantly, trying to prevent him from growing up too fast.

Despite those efforts, Izaiah Carter was fatally shot earlier this month in a park adjacent to his Baltimore high school. He had recently turned 16.

His death added to an alarming trend: more children and teens getting shot, even as gun violence overall trends downward in Baltimore. After several recent shootings of Baltimore high schoolers, including three teens killed within blocks of their schools, local leaders are ramping up efforts to reduce youth violence and increase student safety.

Last week, officials announced an arrest in Izaiah’s case. Police provided few details about how they solved the killing, saying a motive hasn’t been identified.

Hines said the arrest brings her some relief, but she wants to know more about how the shooting unfolded.

“This has been one of my biggest fears. That’s why I put so many parameters in place to protect him,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday, the day after her son’s funeral. “It’s so messed up because I never thought I would be one of these stories on the news.”

Hines said she was in close touch with many of Izaiah’s teachers at Patterson High School in east Baltimore. On March 6, the day he was killed, a teacher texted her saying he missed last period. A short time later, Hines received a call from the principal who told her about the shooting.

“We talk about the prevalence of guns in our community and the ease of access. We talk about the willingness to use those guns — and now, yet again, we’re talking about young people using guns against other young people,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at the scene. “It has to stop.”

The suspected shooter, Roger Alexander Alvarado-Mendoza, 23, was arrested in Texas while trying to flee the country, according to police. Officials said he was not a student at Patterson.

During Izaiah’s funeral service, several friends and loved ones — including fellow cadets in his Junior ROTC class — spoke about their loss. They described his quirky smile, goofy personality and caring demeanor. At the downtown restaurant where he recently started working, Izaiah was known for drinking Shirley Temples and keeping his coworkers laughing.

Hines takes comfort in hearing how her son had a positive influence on other people’s lives.

“But as I’m going through these stages of grief and my feelings are fluctuating, I keep getting stuck in the anger,” she said.

She’s angry about the lack of gun control in a country where shootings frequently claim the lives of young Black men. She’s angry at local elected officials for allowing massive systemic inequities to persist for generations in Baltimore, a deeply segregated city where violence remains heavily concentrated in majority-Black neighborhoods. And she’s angry that her family is suffering because of forces beyond her control.

“There has to be real change,” she said.

She also wonders whether Baltimore schools officials could have done more to protect Izaiah and other students. Hines said she’s considering moving to the suburbs, hoping to remove Izaiah’s younger brother and sister from the dangers of growing up in Baltimore.

A school district spokesperson didn’t respond to a recent request for comment, but Baltimore schools CEO Sonja Santelises previously said Patterson High has effective security protocols in place.

“This shooting did not occur inside of the school building,” she told reporters at the homicide scene. “When young people want to find a way out, we cannot have our eyes everywhere at the same time.”

City leaders say change is happening, but not overnight.

During a news conference Monday, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said the city is working hard to address youth violence. He often touts Baltimore’s “dual approach” to public safety, which combines law enforcement action with social programs and other resources aimed at steering people toward alternatives to crime.

“We did not wait until now to do that deep work,” Scott said, describing ongoing efforts to bolster violence intervention resources within Baltimore public schools. He said officials have also discussed creating “safe passages” for students going to and from school.

Other cities have seen similar shootings and homicides soared nationwide.

Scott said it’s disturbing to see more young people solving conflicts with gunfire — even as Baltimore shootings and homicides have each decreased about 25% overall compared to this time last year, according to police.

Since the start of 2023, five children under 18 have been fatally shot and another 21 injured in gunfire, according to Baltimore police. Three were killed within blocks of their public high schools.

The year began with a Jan. 4 shooting that unfolded around lunchtime outside a Popeyes restaurant across the street from Edmondson-Westside High School in west Baltimore. One student died and four others were wounded. A child’s backpack was visible at the scene, surrounded by shell casings and evidence markers, with schoolwork peeking out from its unzipped pocket.

Police made an arrest last month in that case — a teen whose name hasn’t been released because he’s underage.

Hines said Izaiah was killed during a pivotal time in his life: caught between childhood and adulthood, his future still an open book.

After getting pregnant in high school, Hines pushed herself to graduate, finish college and launch a career in mental health — accomplishments she was proud to share with Izaiah and his two younger siblings. She hoped Izaiah would pursue military service after high school.

“I kept telling him, ‘You are not going to become a statistic. You are not just another Black boy in Baltimore city,’” she said. “But the gun violence, it’s so pervasive.”

United States News

Associated Press

New Jersey house explosion hospitalizes 5 people, police say

WEST MILFORD, N.J. (AP) — Five people were transported to hospitals after an explosion at a New Jersey home on Friday night, police said. The house in West Milford was heavily damaged by the explosion around 9 p.m., the West Milford Police Department said in a statement. A sixth person at the scene refused additional […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Tropical Storm Ophelia makes landfall in North Carolina as coastal areas lashed with heavy rain

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall on the North Carolina coast early Saturday, lashing coastal areas with damaging winds and dangerous surges of water, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Radar, hurricane hunter aircraft and observers on the ground found that Ophelia’s center came ashore at around 6:15 a.m. near Emerald Isle […]

6 hours ago

This Aug. 17, 2021 photo shows Quagga mussels cover the engine of a Bell P-39 Airacobra military pl...

Associated Press

Historians race to find Great Lakes shipwrecks before quagga mussels destroy the sites

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Great Lakes’ frigid fresh water used to keep shipwrecks so well preserved that divers could see dishes in the cupboards. Downed planes that spent decades underwater were left so pristine they could practically fly again when archaeologists finally discovered them. Now, an invasive mussel is destroying shipwrecks deep in the […]

7 hours ago

This image provided by Tulane University shows Nick Spitzer, host of the weekly public radio music ...

Associated Press

Louisiana folklorist and Mississippi blues musician among 2023 National Heritage Fellows

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana folklorist Nick Spitzer and Mississippi blues musician R.L. Boyce are among nine 2023 National Heritage Fellows set to be celebrated later this month by the National Endowment for the Arts, one of the nation’s highest honors in the folk and traditional arts. Spitzer and Boyce are scheduled to accept the […]

7 hours ago

Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jers...

Associated Press

3rd Republican presidential debate is set for Nov. 8 in Miami, with the strictest qualifications yet

The third Republican presidential debate will be held in Miami on Nov. 8, a day after several states hold off-year elections.

9 hours ago

During the equinox, the Earth’s axis and its orbit line up so that both hemispheres get an equal ...

Associated Press

The fall equinox is here. What does that mean?

The equinox arrives on Saturday, marking the start of the fall season for the Northern Hemisphere. But what does that actually mean?

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.


Mayo Clinic

Game on! Expert sports physicals focused on you

With tryouts quickly approaching, now is the time for parents to schedule physicals for their student-athlete. The Arizona Interscholastic Association requires that all student-athletes must have a physical exam completed before participating in team practices or competition.


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

Stolen futures: Baltimore faces uptick in youth violence