BALTIMORE, Md.—Smithsburg resident James Ulrich said his brother, Joseph, moved to Baltimore in April to start a new career as a photographer.
But that dream ended Friday morning, when 40-year-old Joseph Alexander “Alex” Ulrich Jr. suffered fatal gunshot wounds as he stood talking to a friend on the front steps of a building in the Mount Vernon neighborhood in Baltimore.
“He was an amateur photographer and he was getting his foot in the door with some friends,” James Ulrich said of his brother, who was known as Alex to his family and friends. “We are deeply saddened by what happened. He was just a victim of circumstances.”
Donny Moses, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, said Saturday night that Joseph Ulrich was talking to some friends on the steps of a building in the first block of East Chase Street early Friday morning when two people approached them and opened fire.
“When the shooting actually started, he was standing on the front step,” Moses said. “He actually made it inside the house ... It was in a well-to-do area in the heart of the city.”
Moses said Ulrich was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital for multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. He was pronounced dead at 11 a.m.
Moses said Ulrich’s friend, whose name was not being released, was listed in critical condition.
Although Moses said there was no motive for the shooting, James Ulrich said Baltimore police told his family on Saturday that his brother was shot during a robbery.
James Ulrich said police told him that his brother and some friends were talking on the steps when four people walked past. He said two of the four returned later and tried to rob one of Joseph’s friends when the shots were fired.
Alex lived in Gettysburg, Pa., working with troubled youths before he moved to Baltimore, James Ulrich said. When he was a student at Smithsburg High School, Alex was involved in the theater. After he graduated in 1989, Alex stayed active in acting with the Washington County Playhouse.
“He was always outgoing and very energetic,” James Ulrich said.
He said Alex was careful and made it a point to stay away from bad areas in Baltimore.
“He let people know where he was going and what he was doing,” James Ulrich said. “He was very cautious and careful of the streets he walked.”
James Ulrich said Baltimore police didn’t notify the family about Alex’s death until Saturday because they had difficulty identifying the body.
Police described one of the shooters as a black male of average height with a medium build. He was wearing dark clothes and a ball cap.
The second person was described as a short, heavy-set black female. She was wearing dark clothing and a skull cap.
James Ulrich said the important part at this point is getting the word out to help catch the people who killed his brother.
“We’re praying — we’re hoping someone comes forward,” he said. “We just want to get the word out if someone saw something.”