By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A young father who worked for a violence prevention program was among three killed in a mass shooting Wednesday night in East Baltimore.

Rapid gunfire that witnesses said sounded like it came from an automatic weapon rang out just before 7:30pm at Monument and Port Streets. In all, four people were shot.

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WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren confirmed that DaShawn McGrier was among the deceased. He is a violence interrupter who was on duty with the Safe Streets program at the time. Safe Streets uses people in the community to mediate disputes before they turn violent.

The deaths have stunned those who knew the victims.  One friend told Hellgren they were “good people who didn’t deserve this. The violence is out of control.”

Living Classrooms, which runs the Safe Streets program, told WJZ that McGrier was at his post when he was shot, and they do not believe he was specifically targeted—that the violence was intentionally directed at him.

They said he was a beloved father, passionate about making his community safer.

“DaShawn was a friend, a colleague, a son, a brother, and – most importantly to him – a devoted and present father to his young child,” the organization said in a statement. “Our Safe Streets team has experienced a tremendous loss that emphasizes the tremendous need for effective violence interventions in Baltimore. A city-wide Safe Streets response is being planned for Saturday.”

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“DaShawn was actively engaged in making a better life for himself and his community. He was attending the North American Trade School during the day to study welding and was to graduate in April. By night, he worked with the Safe Streets McElderry Park team to reduce shootings and killings using an evidence-based community-oriented violence intervention model.”

McGrier was also the victim of a brutal beating at the hands of a Baltimore police officer in 2018 that made national headlines. The officer served time behind bars for the attack that left McGrier hospitalized.

Haisam Ahmed was inside his business next door when he heard the shots. He told Hellgren there was a police car already parked across the street at the time.

He remembered another one of the victims—known as TJ—and posted a tribute to him on Facebook.

“He was a great guy. He always tried to help everyone out.” Ahmed said.

While the mayor and commissioner have both condemned the attack in written statements, they have declined to answer questions on camera about the violence.

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Anyone with tips can call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-Lockup.