BALTIMORE (WJZ) – A Safe Streets member’s death is drawing new attention to what the city mayor calls a “plague”: gun violence.

On Saturday afternoon, program members, friends, family, and officials gathered to honor the life and work of DaShawn McGrier.

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“We have to look into the mirror and say ‘we need to be better.’ That’s why you’re going to see me supporting this Safe Streets work,” Mayor Brandon Scott said. “I’m never going to shy away from that. I’m going to embrace it.”

McGrier, a young father, mentor, and soon-to-be graduate of a welding trade school was one of four men shot Wednesday on East Monument Street. Three, including McGrier, died from their injuries.

“When you take a life, it’s not just one life that you take. You take the life out of the whole family, out of the whole community,” said Safe Streets member Corey Winfield.

The public health program backed by the city aims to reduce gun violence among people between the ages of 14 and 24. Staff will deescalate and mediate disputes that might otherwise turn into violence. Safe Streets will also connect people with resource partners to build a better life.

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“Let’s look at DeShawn’s legacy and how we want that to be remembered,” Dante Johnson, another member of Safe Streets, said. “The brother was a peacekeeper, so let’s keep the peace.”

At the time of his death, McGrier was on duty at his post in the McElderry Park community as a violence interrupter.

“He was trying to save lives when his life was taken,” explained Al Fluker, who was once McGrier’s schoolteacher and more recently, a colleague in the program.

Over the past year, two other Safe Streets outreach workers have also been killed. Kenyell “Benny” Wilson, who dedicated nine years to the program, died at the beginning of July 2021 after being shot. Dante Barksdale was gunned down in January 2021 after also spending nine years as an advocate and community leader.

“We’re screaming out for all the men and women of Baltimore to step up and do your part,” Johnson said.

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Homicide detectives are asking anyone with information to contact them at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7Lockup.

Cristina Mendez