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Two barbers murdered as Baltimore nears grim 300 homicide milestone

Posted at 5:29 PM, Nov 15, 2021

BALTIMORE — As the city of Baltimore nears 300 homicides, one of the latest shooting sprees left a pair of barbers dead.

We’ve seen the barbershop for so long as a safe haven for every guest who enters.

At one point a place for open conversations by city leaders about the plaguing effect of crime across the city.

RELATED: Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott rolls out multi-year violence reduction plan

Now word of that same crime is buzzing around Baltimore barbershops.

The news that a gunman killed two barbers and injured another found its way to Mr. Do Hair Design Barbershop where Ralph Heard has worked for more than 25 years.

“All I do is sit down and say a silent prayer,” said Heard.

He’s prayerful since he’s just a few blocks up East Oliver where the first of three connected shootings took place Saturday leaving one man critically injured.

The other shootings later that day ended up deadly.

One was at the Crown Barbershop on Eastern Avenue where 44-year-old Javier Villegas Cotta was shot and killed.

Police identified the gunman as 37-year-old Carlos Ortega.

Behind the white curtain draped over the doorway are barbers with broken hearts who describe Javier as a soft-spoken kind man.

Now all that’s left to honor the barber are white flowers just outside of the shop he worked at.

Police say Ortega then drove to Blady Style Barber Shop on O’Donnell Street and murdered 33-year-old Rafael Jeffers.

But David Burch, an off-duty sergeant with the Baltimore Police Department, was there getting a haircut and fired back at Ortega killing him.

"When you’re giving a community service as we do trying to make someone look good, feel good it just disheartens you simply because I'm in that craft,” Heard said.

He says the shooting spree leading to the death of two barbers should be enough to get other barbers discussing ways to make barbershops safer across Baltimore.

"Reach out to anybody you know that's in this craft and that we can talk it over even if we have to go to meetings of our own to go ahead and curtail this craziness and narrow down what attracts it,” said Heard.

At last check the fourth individual injured in the shooting is in the hospital listed in critical condition.