Timothy Reynolds grew up playing baseball in Carroll Park, later earned a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, launched an engineering career and fathered three children.
An avid Orioles and Ravens fan, he lived in Hampden with his wife and daughter. He built a life in Baltimore.
All that was cut short Thursday afternoon when Reynolds, 48, confronted a group of downtown Baltimore squeegee workers with a baseball bat — and one of the youths responded with deadly gunfire, according to Baltimore Police.
In interviews with The Baltimore Sun on Friday morning, his family members expressed shock and despair. What otherwise would be an intensely private grieving process has become unbearably public, their loss the latest talking point in a longstanding political debate about Baltimore’s squeegee workers and the deep-seated social challenges they represent.
In a city plagued by rampant gun violence, the deadly encounter illustrates another trend that experts and officials have pointed to during the pandemic: more minor disputes escalating quickly into shots fired with sometimes fatal results.
“He should have just kept driving,” Carroll Reynolds kept repeating during an interview about his son, shaking his head in disbelief. “He should have kept driving.”
Carroll Reynolds didn’t find out what had happened until several hours after the shooting. He spent Thursday evening watching his grandson play baseball in Howard County, unaware of the devastating news that would later arrive.
He wondered aloud what could have possibly possessed his son to engage in the seemingly bizarre confrontation that turned deadly.
A Twitter account linked to Timothy Reynolds includes a message about squeegee workers posted in April 2019. The post says a squeegee worker at the intersection of South Charles and East Conway streets — one block over from where the Thursday shooting unfolded — washed his window without permission and stared “threateningly” into the car.
“These kids have no right to be out in traffic,” the post says.
On Thursday afternoon, police said Timothy Reynolds drove through the intersection of East Conway and Light streets, parked his car and walked back to the group of squeegee workers while wielding a baseball bat. At the crime scene later that evening, the metal bat lay on the pavement next to a pool of blood.
Reynolds was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
“We’re holding up as best we can,” Carroll Reynolds said. “It’s a cruel business.”
He said the squeegee workers have been a Baltimore staple for decades and was unaware of his son having any strong opinions about them.
“I can sit here and speculate but I have no idea what happened,” he said, his forehead creased into an incredulous frown.
The elder Reynolds worked as a Baltimore Police officer in the 1970s, conducting foot patrols in the Western District.
“It’s a tougher job now than it was then,” he said, referring to the increase in gun violence and other challenges facing city police officers. He spoke with a reporter from the doorway of his Catonsville home.
When “Timmy” was little, the family lived in Pigtown, not far from the downtown intersection where he was killed. He played baseball in nearby Carroll Park, his father recalled. But he was unsure why his son would have been driving around with a baseball bat in the car.
At the Hampden home where Timothy Reynolds lived with his wife and daughter, his mother-in-law said Friday morning that the family was doing their best to process the sudden loss. The fact that their grief has become caught up in a larger political debate about gun violence, policing and poverty in Baltimore makes everything more difficult, she said.
But she wanted people to see her son-in-law the way she knew him: a loving father and husband, a hard worker who put his family first. He left behind three children. The woman asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.
The family said Reynolds worked as an engineer, building a successful career and earning his master’s degree from Johns Hopkins.
His mother-in-law said some relatives were following news about the downtown shooting Friday afternoon before learning that their loved one had been involved.
“The last thing Baltimore needs is more guns,” she said. That was her first thought upon hearing about the incident.
At the scene Thursday evening, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the group of squeegee workers fled the area immediately after the shooting. He said detectives were combing through video footage and seeking witness accounts and cellphone video from bystanders.
He also said the shooting was the second incident involving a squeegee worker Thursday at that same busy downtown intersection.
Several hours earlier, officers confiscated an unloaded BB gun from a squeegee worker shortly before 2 p.m. after reports that he had threatened someone with a weapon, according to police. Outreach workers with the city later responded to the intersection in hopes of connecting the youths with services and potential employment opportunities, Harrison said.
“This is a very complex situation where someone took matters into his own hands, whatever you believe about that,” Harrison said Thursday evening.
In a statement late Thursday, Mayor Brandon Scott said his administration will strive to hold accountable anyone who resorts to violence on city streets.
“Regardless of what caused this incident, it is a sad reminder that far too often easily avoidable confrontations escalate into acts of violence,” he said.
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Harrison said Friday morning that he directed officers to increase visibility of police at locations where squeegee workers operate.
“We want to make sure we are enforcing the law and making observations, certainly for anyone carrying guns,” he said. “We will make that arrest immediately when we see anyone committing any crimes or damage to vehicles or assault to motorists or any other criminal violations.”
Asked why squeegee workers weren’t being arrested for panhandling, Deputy Solicitor Ebony Thompson said the city is analyzing the law to make sure such enforcement would be constitutional. Guidance will be provided to the mayor, she said.
“You can’t have some panhandlers where it is OK and others where you are enforcing,” she said.
Asked whether the current policies of outreach to squeegee workers are enough given that there was a shooting hours after city staff were engaging with the youths, Harrison alluded to the deep-seated social issues at play.
“What that speaks to is a much, much larger conversation about fixing the core root-cause problem of why they are out there in the very first place,” Harrison said. “If we (can’t) fix that and solve their need to support themselves to take care of their basic needs, … that is the real problem.”
Baltimore Sun reporters Sanya Kamidi, Emily Opilo and Alex Mann contributed to this article.