BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Kenyell “Benny” Wilson, an outreach worker with the Safe Streets program, was shot and killed Thursday in Baltimore, police said.
Wilson drove to Harbor Hospital, where he crashed his Volvo XC90, walked into Harbor Hospital with gunshot wounds at 4:41 p.m., and died a short time later, police said.READ MORE: Safe Streets Leader Dante Barksdale Shot, Killed In Southeast Baltimore
Police have not determined where in the city the shooting occurred.
“We’re hoping somebody saw his vehicle. We’re hoping somebody heard gunshots,” Det. Donny Moses of Baltimore Police said. “We know he was in his vehicle when he got shot. We don’t know we don’t know if he was stopped, if talking to someone.”
Wilson had been with Safe Streets almost nine years. Just last week, Cherry Hill Safe Streets celebrated a year without any homicides.
“He was trying to affect change. He was trying to make a difference in people’s lives. He was trying to be positive. And, we need someone to make a difference for him,” Det. Moses said. “They are able to get to places and talk to people that even with you, the police, can’t.”
Mayor Brandon Scott was unavailable for interviews Friday. In a statement on Thursday evening following the news, he wrote:
“Safe Streets has a special place in my heart and I consider the Violence Interrupters who bravely serve this program as a part of my family. Tonight, our brother Kenyell Wilson became a victim of the gun violence he worked every day to prevent. I am deeply saddened and angered that ‘Benny’s’ life was taken in a weak cowardly act. I have spoken with Commissioner (Michael) Harrison and directed him to make apprehending the individual or individuals responsible for taking the life of one of our prime examples of changing your life a top priority. I ask that you keep Kenyell’s family and his Safe Streets family in your prayers and reflect on ways that you can continue the work of our fallen soldier in your own community. My administration will continue to support Safe Streets and community-based violence interventions like it. We will not be deterred from doing so and will further invest in these interventions that work and will continue to be central to my comprehensive strategy to reduce violence in Baltimore.”
Mayor Scott called his murder a "weak cowardly act," saying he directed the police commissioner to make Wilson's murder investigation a top priority. Violence interrupters are "central" to Scott's crime plan. pic.twitter.com/pDHG0V6JPLREAD MORE: Garrick Powell Arrested In Killing Of Safe Streets' Dante Barksdale, Baltimore Mayor Says
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) July 2, 2021
Shantay Jackson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, said Wilson turned his life around.
“The MONSE and extended Safe Streets family are devastated by this senseless loss of life. As someone who turned their life around to do the work of curing Cherry Hill of violence, ‘Benny; epitomized redemption. While he has transitioned physically, his light will never leave us and it guides us as we continue the critical work of interrupting violence in our neighborhoods,” she said in the statement.
Wilson is survived by his wife and eleven children.
Councilwoman Phylicia Porter, who represents Cherry Hill, was unavailable Friday for interviews. In a statement, she said, in part, “Kenyell has been an instrumental force in supporting the work of violence prevention while dedicating his life to making our streets safer. Kenyell’s murder is a blow to the Cherry Hill community – especially after celebrating Safe Street’s 365 days of no homicides. It angers me to know his life was taken away in an instant; Kenyell invested his life in making the Cherry Hill community safer.”
Wilson isn’t the first Safe Streets worker to die this year. Dante Barksdale was killed back in January.
Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (410) 396-2100. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP. You can also submit a tip online.MORE NEWS: Candlelight Vigil Will Be Held For Slain Safe Streets Worker Kenyell 'Benny' Wilson Monday Evening