A 17-year-old boy was charged Saturday with first-degree murder in the death of a student at Mergenthaler Vocational and Technical High School, according to a Baltimore police statement late Saturday.
The suspect has not been named in the shooting of another 17-year-old boy on September 2 after classes ended for the last day of the first week of school in the city, violence that shocked and saddened the community. It also led to calls from Mayor Brandon Scott ‘to do the hard work’ of teaching young people ‘compassion and responsibility’.
Police identified the victim as Jeremiah Brogden, who was given CPR at the scene by Baltimore school officers and was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital by ambulance and pronounced dead shortly after arriving.
School police nabbed the suspect and said they had recovered a handgun. Officials said Friday the suspect was a student at another school in the city of Baltimore.
Baltimore police arrived at the school in the 3600 block of Tivoly Avenue just before 3 p.m. after reports of a shooting. Homicide detectives have taken over the investigation.
The young suspect is being held without bond at a facility of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Brogden was a junior who played running back for Mervo’s football team. His mentors described him as a smart and popular student-athlete whose death shocked his community.
Brogden previously attended Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, a charter school for boys in grades four through eight.
“He was a bright, optimistic, cheerful, kind and generous young man who loved sports and especially football,” said Jack Pannell, founder of Baltimore Collegiate. Pannell described the school as a “sanctuary for black and brown boys”.
“He just stands out as an outstanding member of our community,” he said. “Our hearts go out to his family.”
Baltimore Collegiate athletic director Evan Singleton was the dean of students when Brogden was a student at the charter school and coached him in basketball. “So much potential, as a person, and then also as a student athlete. He was arguably the most athletic kid I’ve ever seen in terms of natural speed and size,” Singleton said.
Singleton described Brogden as a natural leader who was friends with kids all over town.
He acted like a big brother not only to his two younger brothers, but also to the other kids, watching over his brother…and his friends when they all got on the bus together. “He was the man of the house,” Singleton said.
Brogden was wise beyond his years, a child who liked to talk to adults. “Some of the directors have become very, very close to him over the years,” Singleton said.
At the same time, he was just a kid who loved hip-hop and rap, kept his white air force fresh, and acted silly in videos.
“As far as Baltimore Collegiate was concerned, he was the epitome of someone who wasn’t in the best of times, but by the time he graduated he made so many people proud, of the improvement in from reading scores to improving character, to understanding what it means to be a student athlete and a student leader,” Singleton said. “It’s a shock to the community.”
“We can’t continue to live in a city where this is becoming commonplace,” Pannell said. “We just can’t.”
Immediately after the shooting, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the suspect approached the male victim in a parking lot behind the school and they had a heated encounter before the suspect shot several times.
“This is an extremely tragic, beyond tragic situation that occurs on the grounds of a school at the start of the school year,” Harrison said at the time.
Monday was the first day of school for public school students in the city.
Nearby residents described hearing multiple gunshots and then seeing students fleeing the back of the school on Tivoly Avenue toward a nearby bus stop at the Alameda and 35th Street.
The mayor, a graduate of Mervo, had planned to go to school on Friday afternoon for a scheduled football match, although all extracurricular activities had been cancelled.
He posted a tweet on Saturday evening to express his pain at the loss of a student who lost the chance to develop his full potential. But he also appealed to the community to continue and add to efforts to engage young Baltimoreans and help them learn other ways to deal with disputes.
“My administration and I will continue to do the hard work. But Baltimore, the truth is, we need each and every one of you to engage in this critically important work,” Scott said.
“Our children need our time, our energy and our love. They need us to teach them compassion and responsibility to show them how to love and respect themselves,” he said. “They need us to help them see that there is a better way to resolve conflict outside of picking up a gun. We can’t just sit back and watch what happens, “We need to get involved. The organizations and people of Baltimore do this work every day. I ask all of Baltimore to join us in the fight for the souls of our children — and Baltimore’s future.”
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Mervo and other schools in the area have experienced other violent incidents in recent years. Towards the end of last school year, two Mervo students were stabbed by a classmate at lunch.
Last March, an 18-year-old was injured in a shooting outside Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in East Baltimore. In 2015, a 17-year-old student was fatally stabbed by a classmate at Renaissance Academy, and in 2008, a 15-year-old was fatally stabbed at William H. Lemmel Middle School.
A shooting also occurred in a parking lot at Catonsville High School in Baltimore County last February, injuring a 16-year-old student. Two other Catonsville High students have been charged.
School officials said counselors will be available to Mervo students and staff. Bereavement and loss support will also be offered Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Weinberg Y in Waverly at 900 East 33rd St., according to a post on Mervo’s Instagram account. Students and staff can also call Roberta’s House at 844-227-3478.
“We let them know that it’s okay to be upset,” Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Schools, said at a Friday night press conference. “It’s normal to have to talk to people because it’s not normal for any of us.”