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‘She was vibrant’: Mother of USNA midshipman candidate killed by stray bullet

By Kai Reed

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    ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (WBAL) — The mother of a United States Naval Academy midshipman candidate was killed by a stray bullet at a hotel in Annapolis, police said.

Police said Michelle Jordan Cummings was in Annapolis to see her son get inducted into the Naval Academy.

Her time before the shooting was spent planning celebrations. Cummings’ friend said it was one of the happiest times of her life.

“So, what turned out to be a celebratory occasion for the family, celebrating their son going to one of the best institutions in the United States, turned into a tragic event,” Annapolis Police Chief Edward Jackson said during a news conference Tuesday.

Police said Cummings, her husband and another couple were sitting on a patio at the Graduate Hotel just before 12:30 a.m. Tuesday when she was hit by stray bullets.

“Officers and emergency medical services personnel attempted all life-saving measures, but the victim was pronounced deceased at the scene,” Jackson said.

They believe it came from a separate assault and shooting on nearby Pleasant Street.

Veranna Phillips, a friend of Cummings, described her to 11 News.

“She was vibrant, a mother, caring,” Phillips said.

Phillips’ and Cummings’ sons went to prep school together and were excited to start their first year at the Naval Academy playing football together.

She said Cummings was so proud of her son and his journey ahead at the academy.

“She beamed. She was so excited about it, so happy that her baby was going be a midshipman, and everyone that met her, she radiated motherhood, happiness. Just such a wonderful woman,” Phillips said.

According to Jackson, investigators are looking at cameras in the area and they have some leads, but he did not give details.

Jackson and Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said detectives are working on the case nonstop, 24 hours a day.

“You come here with the expectation to see your son go on a journey, one of the most exciting time of his life, to only be met by a wreckless shooter,” Jackson said. “So what I’ll say to the shooter: Turn yourself in, we’re coming after you.”

“This city’s heart is broken. Somebody has lost their mom on their most proudest day of their life. There are no circumstances where this can be tolerated,” Buckley said.

Vice Admiral Sean Buck released a statement Tuesday night via Twitter: “Earlier today, the Annapolis Police Department identified the woman shot and killed earlier this morning as Michelle Jordan Cummings of Houston. She was the proud mom of Midshipman Candidate Leonard Cummings III, a 2021 NAPS grad & incoming plebe (freshman) for the USNA Class of 2025.

“As members of our Naval Academy family, we will do all that we can to support Leonard, his father and the entire Cummings family during this unfathomable time. My wife, Joanne, and I, on behalf of all of us here in Annapolis, offer our deepest sympathies.”

Police said the separate shooting on Pleasant Street involved shots fired at people sitting in a car. Cummings was hit more than once.

Anyone who knows who the suspect or suspects might be is asked to call police at 410-260-3439. You can also call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP and submit an anonymous tip.

A GoFundMe was set up on behalf of the family.

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