Tag Archives: Baltimore Police

Gun control, Baltimore style: 29 killings in past three weeks

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Heckuva job mayor!

From Baltimore Sun: For a while, there was reason to hope. Twelve days without a killing in February. Declining street violence in March. Optimism around a new police commissioner. After a three-year spike in violent crime, a long and bloody siege that brought Baltimore international attention, the city seemed finally to be heading toward peace.

Then came April. Someone executed a mother and daughter inside their house. Stray gunfire killed a 65-year-old woman on her porch. A wanton shooter wounded a 69-year-old man outside his home.

Baltimore police counted 17 killings last month, but 29 within the past three weeks. For Baltimoreans and for the officials charged with keeping them safe, a familiar dread is returning.

“Of course, the frustration is there,” said Chief T.J. Smith, the police spokesman. “You see the moments of hope, and we haven’t given up hope, certainly. … Then you have these unfortunate moments, these spates of violence.”

Police blame some of the recent bloodshed on a war between two West Baltimore groups. The Western District, the department’s smallest, has seen the largest share of violence this year: 18 people killed, more than double the total in any other district. Nine people were killed there in the past 30 days.

Commanders across the department have deployed additional officers to try to quell the rivalry. “I don’t want to get too specific,” Smith said. “We are aware of who they are.”

Police worry that the killings of Chanette Neal, 43, and Justice Allen, 22, could set off retaliatory violence. Unknown killers kicked in their back door and shot the mother and daughter to death two weeks ago.

Prosecutors had accused their son and brother, Antoine Benjamin, of participating in a murderous West Baltimore drug crew. But they dropped a murder charge against him last week. He still faces a gun charge.

Benjamin’s attorney, Jeremy Eldridge, said his alleged crimes have nothing to do with the killing of his mother and sister.

Pinky Louise Ruffin was killed by stray gunfire last weekend. The 65-year-old grandmother was shot on her porch. Police said the bullets were intended for Marques Patterson. The 22-year-old was also killed in the attack.

In the days after, police dispatched additional officers to try and stem the rising violence.

As mourners gathered in Park Heights for a viewing for the mother and daughter, police deployed a command truck, SWAT officers, patrol cars at both ends of the block, and an officer standing at the front door, as a precaution.

Officers last week went after people with open warrants. They served 26 warrants, Smith said, and arrested and charged one man in a killing in February. “It’s a range of things we’re doing to go after people who are potentially causing some of the problems we’re seeing,” Smith said.

Walter Baynes, 30, was shot to death, and his grandfather, George Evans, 69, was critically wounded last week outside the family’s home in the 1700 block of North Regester St. A man who answered at the front door the next day declined to comment.

Police arrested and charged 17-year-old Eric Gilyard with murder in the shooting. He was jailed without bail, and there was no attorney was listed for him in online court records.

Smith said officers found a loaded gun in Baynes’ pocket. He said Evans was a bystander.

A neighbor said she heard the shots. “They stopped, then came again,” said the woman, who declined to give her name out of fear for her safety. Outside her window, she said, she could see the two men down on the sidewalk in front of their home.

The woman said she’s lived on the block 27 years and the Evans family has lived there as long. She said Evans and his wife had raised Baynes since he was a child.

Larry Weaver, Evans’ nephew, has said his uncle was probably trying to protect his grandson when he was wounded. Weaver said Evans would often sit outside on his stoop. “The whole neighborhood knew him,” Weaver said.

The neighbor said her street in the Broadway East neighborhood had been spared violence that has hit other parts of the city recently.

“I was surprised myself” to hear gunfire outside her door, she said. “It’s west, east, south, north. It’s all areas. You can’t predict when it will happen next.

Read the whole story here.

See also:

DCG

Gun-control, Baltimore style: Man shot and killed while driving in funeral procession

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Heckuva job mayor!

From Baltimore Sun: A man killed Saturday in West Baltimore’s Penrose neighborhood was driving in a funeral procession when he was shot in his car, Baltimore police confirmed Monday.

Dannta Holmes, 39, of the 1500 block of Shields Place, was found suffering from gunshot wounds in the 300 block of N. Monroe St. by officers who heard the gunfire while on patrol, said Detective Jeremy Silbert.

Holmes was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A preliminary investigation revealed suspects had approached the vehicle and opened fire before fleeing, Silbert said. He said he did not know for whom the procession was being held.

Another shooting, in which a 30-year-old man was wounded, occurred in Penrose on Wednesday. Baltimore police also identified on Monday two other men killed a day apart in the same neighborhood late last week.

Montrel Rivers, 20, of the 4000 block of Eierman Ave., was fatally shot in the upper body in a double shooting outside of a convenience store in the 1100 block of East North Ave. in East Baltimore Midway at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Rivers was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The other victim in the shooting, an unidentified 22-year-old man, was shot in the leg and taken to a local hospital for treatment, police said.

At about 8:50 p.m. Friday, Ronald Preston, 30, of the 800 block of Montpelier St., was found suffering from gunshot wounds in the 600 block of Gutman Ave., also in East Baltimore Midway, police said. Preston was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

As of Monday, there had been 47 homicides in Baltimore in 2018. That is fewer than during the same period last year, but more than during the same period in each of the previous five years.

The 342 homicides in 2017 marked a per-capita record in Baltimore. It was the third year in a row the city had surpassed 300 killings — a mark not previously reached in the city since 1999.

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh — who fired former Police Commissioner Kevin Davis in January and appointed Darryl De Sousa in his place — said Monday in a State of the City address that the city is moving in the right direction, but still has more work to do to halt the violence.

She said the “collateral damage” from homicides is generational and leaves long-term wounds. “This need not be, and it must not continue, and it will not,” Pugh said.

See also:

DCG

Baltimore reporter interviews students who want “guns gone”

government solve all problems

Utopia for some. Unrealistic in the real world.

As you know Maryland has VERY strict gun control laws. Here’s a sample:

  • Magazine capacity restrictions: Illegal to purchase, sell or manufacture magazines with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds within Maryland. However, possession of magazines greater than 10 rounds is legal if purchased out of state. These may not, however, be transferred to a subsequent owner unless done so outside the state of Maryland.
  • Background checks required for private sales: All private transfers of regulated firearms (handguns or assault weapons) must be processed through a licensed dealer or designated law enforcement agency which must conduct a background check on the buyer.
  • “Weapons of War” ban:Maryland’s ban on 45 kinds of assault weapons and its 10-round limit on gun magazines were upheld by a federal appeals court in a decision that met with a strongly worded dissent. “For a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, Maryland’s law clearly imposes a significant burden on the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home, and it should at least be subject to strict scrutiny review before it is allowed to stand.”
  • Regulated firearms according to Maryland State Police: “Regulated firearm. — “Regulated firearm” means: (1) a handgun; or (2) a firearm that is any of the following specific assault weapons or their copies, regardless of which company produced and manufactured that assault weapon: See the full list here (which includes Bushmaster semi-auto rifle.)
  • Regulated Firearm Purchases (also from the Maryland State Police): “Any person who wishes to purchase, rent, or transfer a regulated firearm must complete a MSP 77R Application and Affidavit to purchase a regulated firearm. This includes individuals acquiring a regulated firearm through a firearm dealer, secondary sale/private sale, gift, or a person who wishes to voluntarily register a regulated firearm shall complete a Maryland State Police Application and Affidavit to Purchase a Regulated Firearm (MSP 77R).”

If you’d like to try and decipher the complete range of gun laws in Maryland you are welcome to do so here.  It is vast and the Maryland legislature web site is not search-friendly.

The gun control laws in Baltimore DON’T stop the criminals. We’ve done many blog posts about the gun violence that permeates Baltimore. See the following:

As for the last bulleted item, Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector did a report on January 1, 2018 and interviewed kids from Excel Academy, a high school that provides second chances for troubled or vulnerable youth.  The students didn’t offer much in the way of solutions to the gun violence they face other than getting involved in political campaigns. As one student said, “she doesn’t know what 2018 will bring.”

Now, after the Parkland shooting, reporter Rector revisited the kids at Excel Academy on March 1 and this time they offered more concrete solutions. Here are some solutions the kids offered as “they want leaders to listen to what they have to say:”

  • Install metal detectors at all schools. (This is one idea that I support.)
  • Better background checks. (The NICS is only as good as the information reported and entered in the database and government agencies responsible for maintaining these records have a track record of failing to forward information to NICS.)
  • More laws and restrictions to keep guns out of the hands of those with violent tendencies or mental illness. (There are hundreds of gun laws in Maryland to prevent this from already happening.)
  • Police need to end the firearm black market. Problem is, as students said, they don’t understand why police seem oblivious to the city’s robust underground gun trade. As one student said, “…buying a gun on the black market in Baltimore is much too easy. It’s as easy was walking down the street. (If it is that easy to buy a gun on the black market, why aren’t local law enforcement officials doing anything to stop the proliferation of easy access to illegal guns?)
  • Firearm training for those who wish to purchase a gun. (Any law-abiding citizen and supporter of the Second Amendment will ensure they are trained. Are more government agencies going to be responsible for guaranteeing this item is fulfilled? The same government agencies that can’t properly update the NICS database are now going to ensure that you are “properly trained” to own a firearm?)
  • And their other solution? They want guns gone, including the AR-15 and handguns associated with most of the killings in Baltimore. (Just one little detail stopping that, kids: the Second Amendment.)

There’s a common theme among the students’ solutions to gun violence: more government action is needed.

The government and their laws designed to protect people didn’t stop the Parkland school shooter. The shooter could have faced charges before his massacre had law enforcement done their job. According to the Miami Herald, “the shooter threatened classmates, posted photos of himself holding guns, made violent statements online and was repeatedly described to authorities as a potential “school shooter.

His troubling behavior gave law enforcement plenty of opportunities to investigate and arrest him — and even take away his guns — long before he shot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, according to interviews with former South Florida prosecutors and legal experts (read the whole story here).”

Here’s my question: If government agencies can’t/won’t enforce current laws, what makes the kids believe that more bureaucracy will solve the problem? And what makes them think criminals will obey more gun control laws?

While I feel for the kids who are scared, looking to the government to solve Baltimore’s gun violence is not the solution. Proof of city officials’ dismal failure to protect their citizens is in their crime statistics.

DCG

Baltimore’s rising violence claims the lives of seven students from same school

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Heckuva job mayor!

Mayor Catherine Pugh…keeping the city “moving forward” and “taking control” of what happens in your neighborhoods.

From Fox News: A growing number of students at a Baltimore high school for troubled or vulnerable youth are missing out on a second chance to turn their life around, instead becoming statistics in a city paralyzed by violent crime.

At least seven students at Excel Academy at Francis Wood High School have been murdered the past 15 months — all victims of the city’s rising violence. At least five were killed during the 2016-17 school year. The sixth was killed in October and a seventh in November.

Among those was Stefon Cook, 20, who had been in school for only a month before he was gunned down in November. “We knew him and we knew him in a good light,” Principal Tammatha Woodhouse told the Baltimore Sun.

Another was 19-year-old Markel Scott, who was shot six times two months before his high school graduation last year. “I grew up here and I’ve never seen crime like this,” his mother Sharonda Rhodes told the New York Times. “These are not normal times. The guns are everywhere.”

The school is a grim reflection of the violence devastating the city, which saw 343 homicides in 2017 – making it three years in a row that the city saw more than 300 murders in a single year.

In its effort to help students cope with the ongoing violence, the school has four social workers, a psychologist and mental health counselors. Safe spaces have been set up so students have a place to vent.

“After the third time, it was like ‘What’s going on? Why are so many people from our school getting murdered? Is someone going after Excel?’ But I think most of them were at the wrong place at the wrong time,” student Deja Williams, 19, who knew all the seven young men killed, told the New York Times.

Woodhouse said there were many times during the last 15 months that she wondered if it was just too much to handle. “I remember having a conversation with my supervisor like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore.’ And he was like, ‘Well, who’s going to do it if you can’t?’” she said.

She continued: “These are young folks who are independent, taking care of themselves and have to survive in an environment that’s not so welcoming to young folks. How as a city do we look at them and ensure that they have economic resources and make sure that they have some stake in the game as it relates to Baltimore?”

City officials say they are trying to figure out ways to make the city safer.

The city is adding a network of more than 750 high-definition cameras that have the ability to zoom in and follow people as they walk down the streets, the Times reported. The city’s leadership also ordered every agency to undertake initiatives to reduce crime, like installing street lighting and clearing vacant lots.

The recent rise in homicides appeared to be triggered by the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray, an African American man who died while in police custody.

“It’s like sitting on a keg of dynamite,” Mayor Catherine Pugh told the Baltimore Sun. “If we don’t fix it, it will all explode.”

While it’s unclear whether the strategies will work, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis told the Sun that the Violence Reduction Initiative is “fundamentally improving how the government is delivered to poor, violent communities in a way it’s never been delivered before.” He said they are already seeing a slight decrease in crime. “So you have to stick with that,” he said, “and you have to find ways to expand it.”

DCG

Baltimore residents blame record-high murder rate on lower police presence

baltimore sign f the police

From NPR: For the third year in a row, Baltimore, Md., has had more than 300 murders, reaching a new record of murders per number of residents in 2017 (and a record killing per capita).

Some residents attribute the high murder rate to relaxed police patrols in the city following high-profile cases of police brutality. Officers have backed off in neighborhoods, like the one where Freddie Gray was arrested.

The Rev. Kinji Scott, a pastor in Baltimore who’s held positions in local city government, says the opposite needs to happen. “We wanted the police there,” Scott says. “We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn’t want them beating the hell out of us, we didn’t want that.

He’s among activists who are calling for police reform to reduce the violence in Baltimore and several other high-crime cities across the U.S. that he says haven’t seen change. That change begins with a conversation between the communities directly involved, Scott says.

“We need the front line police officers and we need the heart of the black community to step to the forefront of this discussion,” he says. “And that’s when we’re going to see a decrease in crime.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interview Highlights

On the current state of community safety in Baltimore

When you think about young people who are out here facing these economic challenges and are homeless and living places that are uncertain, and you’re a parent — you’re scared. Not just for yourself really, but for your children.

The average age of a homicidal victim in Baltimore City right now is 31 years old. We had a young man who attended one of the prime high schools, [Baltimore Polytechnic Institute], Jonathan Tobash, and he was 19 years old, he was a Morgan State student. And he was killed on his way to the store. That’s the state of Baltimore right now.

On whether the community wanted police to back off after the death of Freddie Gray

No. That represented our progressives, our activists, our liberal journalists, our politicians, but it did not represent the overall community. Because we know for a fact that around the time Freddie Gray was killed, we start to see homicides increase. We had five homicides in that neighborhood while we were protesting.

What I wanted to see happen was that people would be able to trust the relationship with our police department so that they would feel more comfortable. We’d have conversations with the police about crime in their neighborhood because they would feel safer. So we wanted the police there. We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn’t want them beating the hell out of us, we didn’t want that.

Read the rest here.

DCG

Baltimore lawmaker’s grandson killed in Labor Day weekend violence

talmadge branch

Lawmaker Talmadge Branch loses his grandson

Baltimore has a serious murder problem.

The residents of Baltimore recently begged for a “Don’t kill anybody weekend” which resulted in three people being shot, two of them fatally. Seven people were killed over Labor Day weekend. There have now been 242 homicides in the city in 2017, a near historic pace.

Lawmaker Talmadge Branch has been in office since 1995, representing the 45th legislative district. In 2013, he supported major gun control measures that included banning assault weapons, requiring people who buy handguns to provide their fingerprints and limiting gun magazines to 10 bullets. At the time he was quoted as saying the following (via Fox News):

“Delegate Talmadge Branch, D-Baltimore, told lawmakers how Baltimore legislators regularly attend funerals of people who are gunned down. He described a calendar that sometimes included two funerals a week or two a month. 

“We don’t have a need for an assault rifle in the city of Baltimore,” Branch said. “We don’t have that kind of need, and we don’t need guns on the street that are unlicensed, and we don’t need guns on the street that are actually killing people.” 

With all due respect sir, the guns aren’t actually killing people. It’s the people holding the guns who are killing people.

Now the gun violence has hit home especially close for this lawmaker. Sadly, murders will continue until lawmakers address the root cause of people killing people in that city.

From CBS Baltimore: A man killed in a shooting Monday is reportedly the grandson of Maryland House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch, according to our media partner The Baltimore Sun.

Branch said his grandson Tyrone is Baltimore’s latest murder victim, and the veteran lawmaker pleaded for the city’s gun violence to stop.

Three hours after the young man’s death, The Sun says Branch said that the city’s violence “touched my family now.”

Tyrone is reportedly the oldest child of Branch’s daughter.

Baltimore Police say the shooting happened around 12:30 p.m. at the 4200 block of Nicholas Ave.  Responding officers found the 22-year-old man with multiple gunshot wounds.

The victim was taken to a hospital, where he died a short time after arriving.

Police say the victim was reportedly was talking with two unknown suspects, when they opened fire on him, and left in a white vehicle after the shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (410) 396-2100, Metro crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP, or text a tip to (443)902-4824.

DCG

Baltimore’s “Don’t kill anybody” weekend: 3 shot, 2 fatally

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

Yeah, no one predicted it would stop shootings.

From MyFoxBaltimore: Three people have been shot, two killed in separate shootings in Baltimore City on day 2 of the city’s ceasefire.

Since Friday organizers in Baltimore have been campaigning for 72 hours of non-violence, hoping to come together to stop the violence.

Saturday evening police responded to a shooting near the 1300 block of Sargeant Street after patrolling officers heard gunfire. After canvassing the area, officers located a crime scene at the intersection of South Carey and Sargeant Streets.

The victim, a 24-year-old male was rushed to an area hospital by friends according to a release.  He was pronounced dead by University of Maryland Shock Trauma officials shortly after arriving.

Just before 10 p.m. Saturday officers were called to the 1600 block of Gertrude Court for a reported shooting.

On scene police located a 37-year-old male suffering from gunshot wounds, he was transported to University of Maryland Shock Trauma. Shortly after arriving, he was pronounced dead by medical officials.

Homicides detectives are investigating both shootings. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Baltimore Police Department’s Homicide Section at 410-396-2100.

Police are also investigating a non-fatal shooting that occurred just after 3 p.m. Saturday. The victim walked into Sinai Hospital with a gunshot wound to his arm. According to police, the victim told nurses he was shot along Park Heights Ave near Woodland Ave.

Anyone with information regarding any of the above shootings is urged to call police.

DCG