A mass casualty event occurred in Baltimore on Sunday, July 2, 2023, when a car plowed into a crowd of people at a street festival. According to the police, two people were killed and 28 others were injured, some of them critically. The driver of the car, a 32-year-old man, was arrested at the scene and is being investigated for possible terrorism charges.
The incident happened around 4 p.m. at the annual Artscape festival, which attracts thousands of visitors to downtown Baltimore every year. The festival features live music, art exhibits, food vendors, and other attractions. Witnesses said that the car, a black sedan, sped through a barricade and drove into the crowd on Charles Street, near the Maryland Institute College of Art.
“I heard a loud bang and then people started screaming and running,” said Jessica Lee, who was at the festival with her friends. “I saw bodies flying in the air and blood everywhere. It was horrifying.”
The police arrived within minutes and secured the area. They found the driver still inside the car, which had crashed into a building. He was taken into custody without resistance. The police identified him as Omar Hassan, a U.S. citizen of Somali origin. They said they found a note in his car that claimed allegiance to a radical Islamist group.
“We are treating this as a terrorist attack until we have evidence to the contrary,” said Police Commissioner Michael Harrison. “We are working with our federal partners to determine the motive and background of the suspect.”
The mayor of Baltimore, Brandon Scott, expressed his condolences to the victims and their families and praised the first responders for their swift action. He also urged the public to remain calm and not to jump to conclusions.
“This is a tragic and senseless act of violence that has shaken our city to its core,” he said. “We will not let this divide us or deter us from celebrating our diversity and culture. We are stronger together and we will overcome this.”
The Artscape festival was canceled for the rest of the day and Monday as a mark of respect for the victims and as a safety precaution. The police said they would increase their presence and security measures in the city for the foreseeable future.
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