ESSEX, Md. (WJZ) — Sixty-two year old Alpha Smith, known by her family as Alfie, was on her way to work at Food Lion just before 7 a.m. on Sunday when she stopped to get a soda at the Royal Farms around the corner from her home in Essex.
She didn’t even get out of the car before Baltimore County police said a man she had never met blocked her in and shot her to death.READ MORE: Police ID Suspect Joshua Green In 3 Fatal Shootings Incidents, Fire In Baltimore County
That man continued his rampage inside the Royal Farms where police said he shot and killed 43-year-old customer Silvesta Daye, Jr. and wounded 22-year-old Joshua Robinson, a clerk.
As of Monday morning, Robinson was in stable condition.
“Baltimore County suffered through a horrific and sickening event, which changed the lives of many people, including some who were lost,” said Police Chief Melissa Hyatt. “For the friends and family of the victims, for the employees of the Royal Farm Store and our entire Baltimore County community, our thoughts and prayers are with you. The Baltimore County Police Department will remain steadfast in our support for those who were impacted by this tragedy.”
Baltimore County shooting victim Alpha Smith’s family says she was “a loving, caring mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend and co-worker.” She was killed just stopping to get a soda on her way to work. @wjz pic.twitter.com/c7mew0HewM
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) March 29, 2021
While police were responding to that first shooting, a call came in for a fire in 1400 block of Shadetree Road. At that location, officers found a man dead in the parking lot of the apartment complex and an apartment fully engulfed in flames. Police later identified the man found at the apartment as the suspect in the Royal Farms shootings. They said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police went to a home in the 14000 block of Manor Road in Baldwin around 3:21 p.m. to notify the shooter’s next of kin. But when they arrived, they found the shooter’s parents, 58-year-old Douglas Green and 62-year-old Olivia Green, dead in the garage. They appeared to have been shot.
Late Sunday night, police said they suspect the same 27-year-old man in all three fatal shootings incidents and a fire.
Police believe he acted alone and the shooting spree started at the shooter’s parents home in Baldwin, then he went to the Essex Royal Farms and then to his own apartment.
“The shooter had no criminal contacts with police, investigators said. The firearm was a legally purchased weapon.
At this time police do not yet have a motive in the shooting.
“As to why this occurred, we have no idea yet,” said Col. Andre Davis.
WJZ obtained video of the aftermath from another customer who arrived on the scene minutes later and was in shock over what he found.
“He’s shot in the head. This lady’s dead too. Oh, my God,” he said.
Baltimore County Police told WJZ the alleged gunman used a weapon he legally purchased last year.
A woman who said she is the suspect’s sister wrote on Facebook that he “struggled with his mental health for many years.”
“I will miss you so much Mom, Dad, and Josh.
Yesterday afternoon, I received the news from a friend in Maryland that the unthinkable had occured – something so horrific that my mind wouldn’t believe It, but something I knew deep down in my heart was very much a possibility. Josh struggled with his mental health for many years, and our relationship was strained and distant due to this. What transpired yesterday was unthinkable, violent, and senseless. For reasons I will never understand, Josh committed 4 murders, two of which were random, injured one more person, set an apartment on fire, and then took his own life. My heart is with the victims families…the grief so far has been nearly unbearable. My heart is with you, everyone affected, as we pick up the pieces to this nightmare. I pray for continued healing peace and closure to the victims families…”
The store remained closed Monday evening. Mourners placed flowers near the entrance.
Victim Alfie Smith’s relatives read WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren the following statement outside of her home: “Alfie was a loving caring mother, grandmother, great grandmother, friend and coworker. Everyone who knew her would agree she was the life of the party. She could light up a room with her smile. She love to joke and clown around. She always was laughing, and she showed much affection with lots of hugs and kisses. She loved with her whole heart. She took great pride in being a grandmother, and she will be tremendously missed by many.“
Over the last few years, there has been a fluctuation in the homicide rate in Baltimore County, meaning some years have been more violent than others.
County executives say the public safety approach here is very data-driven and is always changing to meet the needs of the moment.
At a press conference Monday, WJZ asked Baltimore County’s police chief about the area’s homicide rate.
“Any time we have the loss of life, that is very significant for us in Baltimore County,” said Police Chief Melissa Hyatt.
While focused on the most recent homicides, Chief Hyatt didn’t want to comment on the overall homicide rate.
But, crime statistics from 2017 through 2021 show a variation in the homicide rate. And so far, this year, there have been 18 homicides, which is double the amount of homicides seen year to year the last two years.
WJZ’s Rachel Menitoff: “What do these fluctuations tell us?”
“What we know is that we’ve seen variation year over year. And we are constantly trying to adapt and respond to whatever given year brings,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.
The county executive said public safety is evolving, and their approach is too. He specifically addressed the rise in homicides we saw in 2019.
“In the prior year with the larger number we stepped forward and had a bold data-driven, extra support for hot spot areas crime plan that actually we do think helped drive the numbers,”
The county said it has just built a new real time crime center and has a new data team and it uses this information to drive a lot of its deployments.