2 Shot at Bowie State University Homecoming
Advocates are calling for more security and resources following two shootings in four days during homecoming week at two Maryland HBCUs.
BOWIE, Md. — Two people were shot Saturday night during Bowie State University’s homecoming weekend festivities.
Officers responded to reports of gunfire around 11:45 p.m. near the school’s Center for Business and Graduate Studies where they located two 19-year-old men suffering from gunshot wounds, reports NBC Washington. The two victims were transported to a hospital and their injuries are non-life-threatening, Maryland State Police (MSP) Superintendent Roland L. Butler said at an on-campus news conference Sunday morning.
Mark Cummings, Bowie State’s police chief and director of public safety, said the shooting happened in an area that is typically “not heavily traveled” but was busier than usual due to homecoming. The campus was locked down and students were asked to shelter in place until around 3 a.m., according to The Baltimore Sun. Classes were canceled on Monday.
Police believe there was more than one shooter but have not released a description of the suspects or details on what may have led to the shooting. MSP Major Kenny Brown, assistant chief of the department’s criminal investigations bureau, said a firearm was retrieved.
Bowie State is the second Maryland historically Black college and university (HBCU) to experience a shooting in less than a week. Five people were shot just four days prior outside a homecoming event at Morgan State University. The campuses are approximately 35 miles apart. When Morgan State canceled the remainder of its homecoming activities following the shooting, Bowie State invited students to partake in its homecoming festivities. State police said the male victims are not students at Bowie State or Morgan State.
Following the Morgan State incident, Cummings said the school would increase its unarmed and armed officers on campus, and security teams would be patrolling on bikes and on foot. Metal detectors and security wands would also be used at homecoming events, security cameras would be upgraded and enhanced, and more lights would be installed in dark areas around campus, he announced.
Bowie State student Creedence Jackson said he left campus just before the shooting and that he was surprised the incident occurred since he noticed more security on campus.
“There were police officers posted on the campus in preparation for this event,” he said. “So I think a lot of people are just kind of shaken that this happened in such close proximity to the Morgan shooting.”
HBCUs Need More Resources, Advocates Urge
Bowie State, founded in 1865, is Maryland’s oldest HBCU, enrolling about 6,400 undergraduate and graduate students. Morgan State, founded two years later, has over 9,000 students.
“It just seems that the HBCUs are not getting the resources that they need, and whether it’s fighting over programming with other schools or actually getting funds to handle issues, they’re just not getting it, and that’s problematic,” Randallstown NAACP President Ryan Coleman told WBAL. “This is our best and brightest, and they’re ducking and dodging bullets and glass.”
Overall, predominantly non-White higher education campuses receive significantly less funding than predominantly White ones. According to a 2022 investigation by Forbes, Florida A&M University (FAMU), an HBCU, received $2,600 less funding per student than the University of Florida in 2020. More specifically, the investigation determined FAMU’s $123 million in state appropriations in 2020 amounted to $13,000 per student, compared with UF’s $15,600 per student.
Disproportionate funding starts long before students are old enough to attend higher education institutions. Despite serving the same number of students, predominantly White school districts receive $23 billion more per year funding than predominantly non-White school districts, according to a recent study from EdBuild, an education advocacy group.
Coleman said the response to Saturday’s shooting was “chaotic” and is calling for both Bowie State and Morgan State to double their police forces, conduct more active shooter training for officers, and have MSP take the lead in ensuring safety during large events such as homecoming.
Advocate Sharon Blake told WBAL that while she agrees there is a need for more security in the short term, it’s the overall culture that needs to be addressed.
“In the long term, I really believe there should be a culture change on that campus,” she said. “When I attended Morgan, an HBCU, we had dorm mothers. We had respect for the adults. The adults knew us and called us by name. Relationships are important.”
On Monday, Bowie State President Aminta Breaux spoke at a community conversation held at the student center, WTOP reports.
“We are gathered together as one community (to) reclaim our community,” she said. “There were individuals on our campus who were harmed, who were shot, and we hope and pray for their speedy recovery, but we need to find out the root of how these things come to happen.”
Anyone with information about the Bowie State shooting is asked to call its police tip line at 301-860-4688. There is also a $9,000 reward being offered for information on the Morgan State shooting. Police said investigators believe a dispute between two groups led to the gunfire that missed the intended target. Investigators released a video that contains four persons of interest. Anyone with information is asked to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7LOCKUP.
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