BALTIMORE (WJZ) – As police continue to investigate three separate shootings that left two barbers dead and a third man injured, the victims’ loved ones are searching for answers.
A small flower memorial sits outside the barbershop in the 4600 block of Eastern Avenue where police say 44-year-old barber Javier Cotto was shot by suspect Carlos Ortega. Cotto died.
A friend who did not want to be identified told WJZ that he’s known Cotto since he was eight. He described Cotto as a kind person who would share the shirt off his back.
“He was a good barber,” the friend said. “He always cared. He’s the type of person that he will feed you.”
Baltimore city police say the first shooting happened on East Oliver Street shortly after 2 p.m. The department said the suspect, Ortega got into an argument with that victim shortly before he shot the man. Police say that man was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Cotto then became the second victim.
Police say the suspect then drove to the 5700 block of O’Donnell street where he walked into a barbershop and killed the owner. The victim was 33-year-old Rafael Jeffers who was also known as Bladi. Police say an off-duty officer was in the shop at the same time and that officer shot and killed the suspect.
Jeffers was from the Dominican Republic. He had recently purchased the shop.
One of Jeffers’ friends who is also a barber told WJZ that he was working hard now just in case a medical condition got worse.
“He had a condition that was caused by an accident that gave him a bad leg but he couldn’t work as much,” the friend told WJZ. “He worked hard because he knew that as he got older he [wouldn’t be] able to work.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, police did not release an update on the investigation.
Even though the officer who shot and killed the suspect was off duty, this case is being classified as an officer-involved shooting. New state law requires that the attorney general’s office assist with the investigation.