Vi­o­lence mars Fells Point’s Hal­loween

Wo­man was shot in foot and three peo­ple were stabbed af­ter street fight early Tues.

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Natalie Sher­man and Justin Fen­ton nsh­er­man@balt­sun.com jfen­ton@balt­sun.com

For the sec­ond time in two years, vi­o­lence marred Hal­loween fes­tiv­i­ties in Fells Point’s bar district, rev­elry that some busi­ness own­ers and res­i­dents said has got­ten in­creas­ingly out of hand in re­cent years.

A22-year-old wom­an­was shot in the foot and three peo­ple were stabbed af­ter a street fight in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents early Tues­day morn­ing, po­lice said. The vi­o­lence oc­curred af­ter hun­dreds flocked to the area to cel­e­brate.

The his­toric wa­ter­front neigh­borhod has long been a mag­net for cos­tumed mer­ry­mak­ers, but the lack of a for­mal event has con­trib­uted to a sense of chaos, as peo­ple gather in pub­lic spa­ces, leav­ing traf­fic and trash in their wake, some said.

“I was wor­ried about my staff. I was wor­ried about my cus­tomers,” said Ron Fur­man, owner of Max’s Tap­house, which was one of sev­eral es­tab­lish­ments that shut its doors ear­lier than usual. “I had to do what I had to do.”

The vi­o­lence was an­other blow for an area where some said they still feel a loss of busi­ness they trace to 2015’s un­rest.

This year’s in­ci­dents also fol­low a string of mug­gings, thefts and other high-pro­file in­ci­dents that have con­trib­uted to safety con­cerns in the neigh­bor­hood. Rob­beries, for ex­am­ple, are up 60 per­cent in Fells Point this year, com­pared to 2015.

“It feels like there’s been a lot of stuff go­ing on,” said Scott Goldman, a for­mer City Coun­cil can­di­date who serves on the crime preven­tion com­mit­tee of the Fells Prospect Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion. “It is per­sis­tent and frus­trat­ing.”

Af­ter shots were fired in the 600 block of S. Broad­way around 1 a.m. on Hal­loween night last year, the Bal­ti­more Po­lice Depart­ment de­ployed ad­di­tional of­fi­cers this year, said spokesman Lt. Jar­ron Jack­son, who es­ti­mated the crowd in the “hun­dreds.”

Jack­son de­clined to com­ment on po­lice strat­egy, but neigh­bors and busi­ness own­ers said po­lice were a vis­i­ble — if out­num­bered — pres­ence, con­duct­ing foot pa­trols and is­su­ing com­mands from a he­li­copter to clear the area af­ter 1 a.m. Tues­day. Un­like last year, po­lice did not block roads, in an ef­fort to re­duce the party at­mos­phere, neigh­bors and busi­ness own­ers said.

Liquor Board in­spec­tors were also on the scene in Fells Point last night to make sure that bars were not serv­ing mi­nors or filled over their rated ca­pac­ity, said Thomas R. Akras, deputy ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary for the Board of Liquor Li­cense Com­mis­sion­ers. They did not find any vi­o­la­tions, he said.

Neigh­bor Chrissy An­der­son said she is not sure what po­lice or oth­ers could have done bet­ter.

“What hap­pened last night is not … rep­re­sen­ta­tive of life in Fells Point or busi­ness in Fells Point,” she said. That’s “also why it’s so dif­fi­cult to deal with be­cause you don’t ex­pect a shoot­ing to hap­pen at a big Hal­loween cel­e­bra­tion.”

Jack­son said po­lice were nearby in both vi­o­lent in­ci­dents, which oc­curred early Tues­day morn­ing. Around 1 a.m., they moved to break up a fight in the 700 block of S. Broad­way, find­ing three males hurt with stab wounds to the torso. One re­mained in crit­i­cal con­di­tion Tues­day af­ter­noon.

About 1:50 a.m., a wo­man was struck in the foot af­ter shots were fired in the 400 block of S. Broad­way, just north of the main hub of bars.

Of­fi­cers do not be­lieve the two in­ci­dents were re­lated, nor do they know what started the fight, Jack­son said. He said he could not link the events to any of the videos of fights cir­cu­lat­ing on­line.

The depart­ment has lit­tle in­for­ma­tion about sus­pects and is ask­ing peo­ple to come for­ward with what­ever footage or other in­for­ma­tion they have, he said.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate that th­ese in­di­vid­u­als marred that whole cel­e­bra­tion with th­ese acts of vi­o­lence,” he said.

The vi­o­lence and lit­ter­ing re­lated to Hal­loween last year prompted calls from the state del­e­ga­tion and oth­ers for a more ag­gres­sive and co­or­di­nated re­sponse from city agen­cies.

City Coun­cil­man James B. Kraft de­clined through a staff mem­ber to com­ment on this year’s in­ci­dents.

State Del. Brooke Lier­man, who lives in the neigh­bor­hood, praised po­lice and the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works for their work this year, which in­cluded cleanup on Sun­day and Tues­day morn­ings. But she said the vi­o­lence makes it clear that an­other strat­egy is needed.

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