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Mother of Naval Academy midshipman shot and killed in Annapolis while visiting for Induction Day

The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Annapolis officials identified the woman fatally shot Tuesday as a 57-year-old woman from Houston whose son was a football prospect at the Naval Academy.

Michelle Jordan Cummings’ son, Midshipman candidate Leonard Cummings III, attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School and was in Annapolis on Tuesday to attend Induction Day, the beginning of Plebe Summer. She was fatally shot while sitting at a patio area outside the Graduate Hotel in Annapolis early Tuesday, Annapolis police said.

Police say the shots were likely fired on Pleasant Street, and Cummings was not the intended target. Police said the call for the shooting on West Street came in around 12:21 a.m.

Multiple shots were fired on Pleasant Street, including at a parked car with two people in it, police said. How the bullets traveled from Pleasant Street to the elevated Graduate Hotel patio, on West Street, by the parking lot is almost inexplicable, Annapolis Police Chief Ed Jackson said. Cummings was shot more than once.

There is shrubbery that in most cases would have prevented the bullet from reaching her, he said. Cummings had also stood up as the bullet came toward the patio.

“I’ve seen many of them [shootings] and this was unusual,” Jackson said.

Cummings was with another family, catching up, Jackson said during a news conference. The two families knew each other because their sons attended the Naval Academy Prep School in Rhode Island before coming to the academy.

The police department currently has leads on a suspect, but Jackson declined to give additional information during the conference. Annapolis has had two other homicides this year, both with suspects in custody. Jackson and Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said resources would be devoted to making sure this homicide ends the same way.

Buckley offered his sympathies to the family in a statement.

“We are focused on getting guns off the street but it only takes one criminal with a gun for the results to be tragic,” Buckley said in the statement. “This was a horrific outcome for the kind of everyday gun violence that many cities across America see. Annapolis is sadly not immune.”

The city staff are all numb from the shooting, Buckley said.

“This is a safe city,” the mayor said after the news conference. “This was a tragic event. The city’s never seen anything like this.”

Jackson echoed the mayor saying it was “rare” for such a shooting to happen.

“As painful as it is, the handgun problem is a national problem, not just an Annapolis one,” the chief said.

The Naval Academy’s Induction Day was split into two days this year, starting Tuesday, with the first plebes checking in just hours after the shooting. This is the second tragedy for the Naval Academy in less than two weeks. Last week, the academy announced the death of Midshipman 1st Class Myles James.

“The Naval Academy extends its deepest condolences to the family of the victim from this morning’s shooting, and is providing the necessary counseling and services to those at the Naval Academy affected by this tragedy,” academy spokesperson Cmdr. Alana Garas said in an email.

Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said the academy will do everything it can to support Leonard, his father and their whole family “during this unfathomable time.”

“My wife, Joanne, and I, on behalf of all of us here in Annapolis, offer our deepest sympathies,” Buck said in a statement.

The city’s crisis intervention team is assisting the woman’s family. Anyone with additional information is asked to call detectives at 410-260-3439.

Although Cummings and her family are from Houston, they have strong connections to the Naval Academy community. Already, a woman from Beltsville, Maryland, has set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the Cummings family. In nine hours, 120 donors had raised $8,358.

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