Notes From a Firebombing

By Lawrence Lanahan—CityLab—April 2, 2017—

On surveillance footage shot from a camera atop a pole a block away, the pair of Molotov cocktails appear as two distant dots of light, first quivering, then slicing through the air and disappearing into a row of houses.

Video taken minutes later by arriving firefighters shows flames raging from every window of the house at 1233 Greenmount Avenue.

The firebombing of a three-story rowhouse in Baltimore’s Johnston Square neighborhood around 5 a.m. on March 18 didn’t make a lot of news outside the region. It wasn’t like in 2002, when a drug dealer firebombed a house six blocks from here, killing a family of seven in order to silence a woman who had repeatedly stood up to local dealers; that made national headlines. This latest incident, which police say was retaliation for a shooting on the same block two nights earlier, killed two young men, 17 and 19. Among the six others who were injured: a 4-year-old girl, an 11-year-old boy, and a young woman, 20, who escaped the home by jumping from a third-floor window, sustaining life-threatening injuries.