Two fatalities — the stabbing of a 27-year-old man and the shooting of a 22-year-old — pushed Baltimore’s annual homicides over 300, the first time the city has recorded numbers this high in 16 years.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called the count a “sad milestone,” vowing that “Baltimore will win again,” come the next year.
“This challenging moment shall pass if we reject blame and embrace the hope, dreams and promise of a great American city,” Commissioner Davis said. “Baltimore will win again, 2015 will not define us, and the nation will once again see our city for the determination that has long defined us.”
Officials say the homicide rate increased in May after the spring uprisings sparked by the death of Freddie Gray — the 25-year-old unarmed Black man who died from injuries sustained in police custody in April. In that month alone, the New York Times reports, the city witnessed 42 homicides. Baltimore saw its deadliest month in July, with 45 homicides.
According to The Baltimore Sun:
Baltimore’s 2015 homicide rate currently sits at 47 per 100,000 people, second only to the rate in St. Louis, which has also seen a steep spike in gun violence this year. Total shootings in Baltimore are up nearly 80 percent over the comparable period last year, while other types of crime, including robbery and burglary, have also increased.
Efforts to combat the street crime come as the Department of Justice continues an investigation into allegations of brutality and other issues within the Baltimore Police Department. Meanwhile, the city is bracing for the first of six trials for the police officers charged in Gray’s arrest and death; it is scheduled to begin Nov. 30.
Officials have struggled to identify the cause of the spike in homicides. Earlier in the year, police and federal law enforcement officials speculated that the looting of drugs from pharmacies during the April 27 rioting may have played a role by disrupting street markets. But with the violence continuing, police Commissioner Kevin Davis said it now appears there is a widespread perception by criminals that the time is ripe to settle scores.
There has also been concern over the alleged slowdown by police — seen as deliberate by activists who believe the arrest of the officers who were charged in Gray’s unlawful arrest and death sparked a work stoppage — though officials have previously denied the allegations.
As of November, homicides were up 189 percent compared to 2014.
Photographic Proof Not Much Has Changed In Ferguson Since Michael Brown's Death
1. 2014: Michael Brown's lifeless body was left in the streets of Ferguson for more than four hours after he was killed by Officer Darren Wilson on August 9.Source:Getty 1 of 14
2. 2015: Tyrone Harris, 18, was shot in Ferguson Sunday night by police for allegedly attacking them with a firearm. He remains in critical condition and is facing four charges of first-degree assault on law enforcement, five counts of armed criminal action, and one count of discharging a firearm at a motor vehicle.Source:Getty 2 of 14
3. 2014: Unrest in Ferguson plagued the city after police officers clashed with protesters.Source:Getty 3 of 14
4. 2015: Police stand to maintain the crowd after shots rang out on the anniversary of Mike Brown's death.Source:Getty 4 of 14
5. 2014: An unarmed protester was approached by police during protests in Ferguson. The image became one of the most memorable of the city's uprising.Source:Getty 5 of 14
6. 2015: A woman stands before police with her hands up in the air.Source:Getty 6 of 14
7. 2014: After the shooting of Mike Brown and the death of Eric Garner, unrest continued to rise in Ferguson. After it was determined that Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the fatal shooting of the teen, protesters took to the streets.Source:Getty 7 of 14
8. 2015: Since the death of Brown, over 100 men, women, and children of color have been killed by police. Worldwide protests have continued advocating for better training for police officers.Source:Getty 8 of 14
9. 2014: A woman hit with pepper spray is doused with milk. Ferguson police issued curfews for protesters after incidents of arson and looting occurred during peaceful protests in the city.Source:Getty 9 of 14
10. 2015: A year later, protesters say they too were hit with tear gas while protesting in the streets.Source:Getty 10 of 14
11. 2014: The National Guard was called into Ferguson to "control" protests.Source:Getty 11 of 14
12. 2015: A teen is caught in the crossfire during a shooting that took place in Ferguson on the anniversary of Mike Brown's death.Source:Getty 12 of 14
13. 2014: Army tanks filled the streets of Ferguson after protests turned violent in the city.Source:Getty 13 of 14
14. 2015: St. Louis police with army gear arrive in Ferguson Sunday night.Source:Getty 14 of 14
Baltimore Surpasses 300 Homicides For First Time In 16 Years was originally published on newsone.com