Last night, Mayor Catherine Pugh, City Council president Bernard C. “Jack” Young, interim police commissioner Gary Tuggle, City Councilman Eric Costello, and dozens of South Baltimore residents packed the gazebo at Riverside Park for a community meeting to address gun violence in the city.
During a subsequent Safety Walk down Riverside Avenue toward Digital Harbor High School, residents stopped to take a moment of silence for all of the city’s homicide victims this year. Among them was Timothy Moriconi, a 25-year-old who was fatally shot while walking home from a relative’s house in Riverside around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 27.
The tragedy, which Baltimore City Police Department chief spokesperson T.J. Smith called “a deplorable act of violence,” is part of a recent spike in homicides throughout the city, which has seen more than 200 this year.
In the wake of the shooting, the Federal Hill community has bonded to memorialize Moriconi’s life with candlelight vigils, while also pushing for a higher police presence in the neighborhood.
“A lot of people’s emotions are shifting toward frustration and anger,” says Brian Acquavella, a Federal Hill resident, who owns Blue Agave and One Star Country Club in the neighborhood. “We feel very hopeless. How do you prevent something like this happening at 7:30 on a Thursday evening on a highly populated street? We can’t prevent anything. This is up to our leadership in Baltimore.”
On Tuesday, October 2, Acquavella and the team at One Star are hosting a fundraiser from 4 p.m. to close, donating 100 percent of all food and drink proceeds to the family of Moriconi, who was a regular at the bar.
“He was a great customer and became friends with a lot of the staff,” Acquavella says. “When you see someone a couple days a week, it’s hard to not become friends with them.”
In an attempt to raise as much money as possible, the bar will not be offering any particular food or drink specials.
“It’s not about us,” Acquavella says. “We’re not keeping any of this money or trying to drive business, we’re just trying to make as much as we can for that family. We’re going to open our doors like normal and hopefully we can bring a lot of people in.”
Bartenders have even pledged to donate their tips to the family, and some staff members are coming in on their day off to assist with the crowds. Acquavella says that his team is an example of the resilience of the Federal Hill neighborhood, which has been known to come together in the wake of tragedy.
“That is a shining light in all of this,” he says. “South Baltimore is never going to be a place where everyone gets along and has the same views 100 percent of the time. But when tragedy does happen, this is definitely a neighborhood that will do anything for anybody when needed. That’s what I love about it here.”