One dead af­ter city triple shoot­ing

Res­i­dents ‘liv­ing in a world of hor­ror’ as at­tack raises 2016 homi­cide to­tal to 270

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By Kevin Rec­tor krec­tor@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/rec­tor­sun

The older woman rushed out of her home, push­ing a small boy in a stroller as she ticked off items not to for­get in her haste: Di­a­per. Bot­tle.

The boy, all cheeks un­der a win­ter hat pulled tight, held a small Her­shey’s choco­late bar in his hand. The woman was fran­tic.

“I gotta get out. I gotta get out. I’m shak­ing like a leaf. I gotta get out,” she said.

Three men had just been shot in the 800 block of W. Lex­ing­ton St. in Pop­ple­ton, just be­yond her small court­yard. She’d heard the gun­fire in­side. “Dead?” she asked. One of them was, she was told. “Oh my God. Oh my God,” she said, as she sped off down the street. “I gotta get out.”

The triple shoot­ing about 11:30 a.m. Fri­day was the lat­est burst of gun­fire in a city where shoot­ings have be­come so com­mon that, for the sec­ond year in a row and only the sec­ond time since the1990s, Bal­ti­more is poised to pass 300 homi­cides.

As of Fri­day, there had been 270 killings in 2016.

Res­i­dents say the grisly pace of vi­o­lence is some­thing they feel in­ti­mately — and are un­able to es­cape.

“I just wish that it would all stop, and ev­ery­body would just come to­gether in unity,” said Kenith Din­gle, 33, who lives near the crime scene. “In the world we’re liv­ing in to­day, it’s chaotic. Ev­ery­one needs to come to­gether. Stuff like this just makes it worse.”

Po­lice did not iden­tify the man who was killed. They said the two who were wounded were ex­pected to sur­vive. Po­lice do not name the sur­vivors of shoot­ings, who num­ber nearly 600 this year.

In a re­cent in­ter­view, Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis ac­knowl­edged that things are bad. “Ev­ery mur­der is im­por­tant and ev­ery mur­der that hap­pens, we wish it didn’t hap­pen,” he said.

But he also said that the homi­cide rate is driven by many fac­tors, in­clud­ing many out­side of the Po­lice Depart­ment’s con­trol — poverty and the drug trade, for starters, and light sen­tences for those ar­rested with il­le­gal guns.

Davis said he’s pur­su­ing many dif­fer­ent strate­gies to re­duce crime, from im­prov­ing com­mu­nity re­la­tions to get more tips, to look­ing for new tech­nolo­gies that could aid in cap­tur­ing those re­spon­si­ble for vi­o­lence.

“We’re not tak­ing our eye off that homi­cide rate or that non­fa­tal shoot­ing rate. We’re just try­ing to find cre­ative, in­no­va­tive ways to ad­dress that vi­o­lence in dif­fer­ent ways,” he said.

“We have some re­ally violent peo­ple that we’ve taken off the streets this year. I’m con­fi­dent our strat­egy is the right strat­egy, though the pace of the vi­o­lence hasn’t slowed the way we would like it to slow.”

Over 180 months, from 2000 to 2014, Bal­ti­more saw 30 or more homi­cides in a sin­gle month only six times. In the past 18 months, there have been 30 or more homi­cides in a month eight times.

There was a no­table spike in homi­cides af­ter the un­rest fol­low­ing the death of Fred­die Gray in April 2015 from in­juries suf­fered in po­lice cus­tody. Last year ended with 344 homi­cides, a per-capita record for Bal­ti­more.

As of the start of this month, homi­cides were down 9 per­cent year over year. But non­fa­tal shoot­ings were up about 5 per­cent, and there have been more than 800 shoot­ings so far in 2016.

With more than a month and a half left in the year, the city is knock­ing on the door of 300 homi­cides once again.

At the scene of the Pop­ple­ton shoot­ing, neigh­bor­hood res­i­dents stood around watch­ing as homi­cide de­tec­tives and young of­fi­cers milled about, look­ing for some­thing to help them solve the case. Po­lice said they had no leads and knew of no mo­tive. At one point, a mother rushed past the yel­low po­lice tape scream­ing. “That’s my son!” she screamed. “Stop,” a young of­fi­cer said calmly, step­ping for­ward. “He’s not here. Ev­ery­one’s at the hos­pi­tal.”

The woman jumped in her car and sped off, and the of­fi­cer turned his at­ten­tion back to the scene.

Not long af­ter, a group of neigh­bor­hood men stood on the street dis­cussing the vi­o­lence. A block away, tourists wan­dered past, on their way to the Edgar Al­lan Poe House and Mu­seum, the small home where the fa­mous poet — who had a pen­chant for the macabre — once lived.

“While they’re vis­it­ing the house of hor­ror, we’re liv­ing in a world of hor­ror,” said one of the men, 63, who has lived in the neigh­bor­hood 35 years.

The man didn’t want to give his name. That’s howyou end up shot your­self, he said.

But he had thoughts on a range of is­sues — from what Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­dency will mean for Bal­ti­more to why he thinks politi­cians and in­sti­tu­tions in the city have al­lowed vi­o­lence to run ram­pant in his neigh­bor­hood for decades.

“Help,” he said. “We don’t like this. We don’t like stand­ing around hav­ing to worry about get­ting shot ev­ery five min­utes.”

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