A man who worked on the front lines of preventing gun violence in Baltimore, Maryland, was shot and killed on Wednesday night in a quadruple shooting on E. Monument Street, in the McElderry Park neighborhood.
Baltimore native DaShawn McGrier, 29, worked as a violence interrupter for Safe Streets and is the third member of the organization to be shot and killed in the last year.
“[DaShawn] was passionate about his community, and was working hard to make that community safer for his family, friends and neighbors,” said Meg Ward, Vice President of Strategic Growth and Community Partnerships at Living Classrooms — a nonprofit that operates two of the 10 Safe Streets sites in the city, including McElderry Park. “He was a son, he was a father, he was a partner. He was a brother, he was a devoted and present father to his child.”
According to Ward, McGrier was having a conversation with the other two victims while working at his post on Monument Street when the shooting occurred.
“Apparently, a tow truck came around the corner and they just shot up the block,” Ward said.
BPD identified the other victims as 28-year-old Tyrone Allen and 24-year-old Hassan Smith. A spokesperson told ABC News Friday that “no arrests have been made at this time.”
There have been more than 300 homicides in Baltimore each year for the past five years, with 338 in 2021 and 335 in 2020, BPD data shows.
Ward said Safe Streets organizes shooting response events to “denormalize” gun violence — especially in neighborhoods where shootings are common — by creating an opportunity for the community to come together to honor the victims and send the message that, “This is not OK.” And on Saturday, they honored one of their own.
Violence interrupters also connect individuals with resources such as job placement opportunities and financial support.
McGrier’s killing came as the Safe Streets community continues to mourn the deaths of two beloved longtime members who were killed over the past year and who had dedicated their lives to reducing gun violence.
Dante Barksdale, a Safe Streets outreach coordinator, and Kenyell “Benny” Wilson, a Safe Streets violence interrupter, were shot and killed in separate incidents in January and July. Two days before McGrier was killed, the community gathered to honor Barklesdale on the anniversary of his death.
Safe Streets was launched in Baltimore in 2007 in the McElderry Park neighborhood. It is one of several violence prevention programs in the country that is based on a model that started in Chicago in the mid 1990s.
According to experts who study and evaluate solutions to gun violence, research shows that the concept is “promising,” but challenges persist when it comes to implementation and funding.
Safe Streets, for example, serves 10 target areas but only covers 2.6 square miles in a city that spans 92 miles of Maryland.
But researchers told ABC News that one of the things that makes it all worthwhile is seeing the violence interrupters asserting their influence to keep the peace.
“[Violence interrupters] are from the same streets, grew up in the same areas and had the same experiences as young people, and so they just have more access and access means influence,” said Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The possibility of influencing someone’s behavior and attitude is stronger if you come at them as an equal.”