A man is in grave condition after he was shot inside the radical bookstore and coffee shop Red Emma's at about 11:20 a.m. this morning, police said.
According to Lt. Jarron Jackson, the man was sitting in the cafe when he was called to the door by someone he knew, who shot the man in the "upper body."
The man is being treated for his injuries, Jackson said. He declined to give any description of the man because of the relationship police believe he has with the shooter. Police could only describe the gunman as a male in dark clothing, possibly wearing a mask.
Witnesses who were in the cafe at the time of the shooting described a horrfiying scene.
Artist Graham Coreil-Allen said the shooter walked right behind the victim into the cafe and shot him in the head with a "little pistol."
"It happened right after he came through the doors," said Cassandra Miller (who, full disclosure, has contributed to City Paper in the past).
Everyone screamed and took cover as the gunman stood over the man's body for a moment before leaving, Coreil-Allen said. Miller said there was only one shot.
People waiting at a nearby bus stop ran in to check on the victim. Both people City Paper spoke with told of how a woman came over to help the main by applying pressure to the wound. The man appeared to be breathing, though Coreil-Allen said the man was spewing up blood and bile. Neither got a good look at the shooter.
Police arrived minutes later, followed by paramedics. Workers and witnesses remained on site to give statements to detectives.
On its Facebook page, Red Emma's announced the cafe would be closed for the remainder of the day, and that tonight's event, "Young, Angry, and Black with Valencia Clay and Guests," has been moved to 2640 Space.
The collective also posted the following statement: "Thanks to everyone for the love & support. Our workers are physically safe, but we're anxiously awaiting more news about our community member who remains in critical condition. Though today's shooting is a reflection of the extreme moment in which we live, we want to assure everyone that this was a case of interpersonal violence, not a politically-motivated attack. We will remain closed for the rest of today so our workers & community can process, but we plan to reopen tomorrow."
Red Emma's has always strived to be a community gathering space, offering talks and book readings on urban life, race, gender, war, economics, and a host of other topics. The space also makes a point to be inclusive, doing things such as labeling the bathrooms as gender-neutral and providing a pay-it-forward food system that allows people in need to get food or coffee at no charge. It's also a favorite spot for activists, something that was noted by Baltimore Police Sgt. Bobby Cherry Jr., who tweeted to The Sun's Justin Fenton that the shooting was likely "captured on cell phones by the many patrons there who regularly capture w/cell footage."
He has since deleted it. The BPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the tweet.
Both Miller and Coreil-Allen noted the inclusivity of Red Emma's as one of the qualities they love about it.
"Red Emma's is this safe space for so many people from all walks of life, and to have that violated is a tragedy," said Coreil-Allen. "I hope it will continue to serve as a safe space for all of us."