You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

News: Top Stories

12 shot in Baltimore on Thursday, 5 in single incident, police say; 4 dead overall

Baltimore Sun logoBaltimore Sun 2/22/2019 Kevin Rector and Christina Tkacik
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, left, and Michael Harrison, center, acting commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, listen to a reporter's question at an introductory news conference for Harrison, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Baltimore. Harrison, the former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, started Monday as acting leader weeks before the city council is expected to vote on his nomination as permanent police commissioner. © Patrick Semansky/AP Photo Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, left, and Michael Harrison, center, acting commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, listen to a reporter's question at an introductory news conference for Harrison, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in Baltimore. Harrison, the former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, started Monday as acting leader weeks before the city council is expected to vote on his nomination as permanent police commissioner.

BALTIMORE — A barrage of evening gunfire that wounded four men and killed another in West Baltimore accounted for less than half the city's shooting victims on Thursday, the most violent day of acting Police Commissioner Michael Harrison's short tenure.

In all, 12 people were shot — four fatally — in a series of seven shootings that started in the morning and lasted into the night.

The five shot in Thursday evening's quintuple shooting, which occurred just as Harrison and other law enforcement leaders in the city were preparing for a community meet-and-greet in North Baltimore, ranged in ages from 19 to 46, with a 26-year-old man among them suffering the fatal injuries, police said.

The other three fatal victims — a 20-year-old man found dead in a car, a 27-year-old man declared dead at a hospital and another man found in Hamilton Hills — were shot in three incidents throughout the day, police said.

Inured to the violence, some neighbors near the Druid Heights intersection where the evening shooting occurred said they know the drill by now: duck on the floor, wait for the firing to stop.

"We deal with it every day," said an elderly man who lives nearby.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous for fear for his safety, said the street is poorly lit, insufficiently patrolled by police, and controlled by warring drug gangs whose pushers work around the clock.

"We raised up in this neighborhood, but we just got to move. It's just getting too bad," he said. "We don't have that (police) presence."

The shootings and the man's concerns reflect the issues dogging the Baltimore Police Department as it struggles with high rates of gun violence coupled with staffing problems amid low morale and federal oversight stemming from a history of unconstitutional policing.

To lead the department, Mayor Catherine Pugh hired Harrison away from the New Orleans Police Department, where he had worked his entire 28-year career in law enforcement and had served as police superintendent since 2014.

Harrison took over as acting commissioner in Baltimore on Feb. 11, and has spent much of his time talking to local residents about his vision for moving the department forward — out of the cycles of violence that have seen more than 300 people killed in each of the past four years, out of the cycles of corruption and unconstitutional policing that left the Police Department under a federal consent decree mandating sweeping reforms.

On Thursday, he met first with clergy members during the day and later in the evening with a gathering of community members.

The street violence swirling around the city before, during and after those events re-emphasized the sweeping need for change, and the stark challenges the new commissioner is facing.

Through Feb. 16, 2019, homicides were up 10 percent over last year, to 33 from 30, but nonfatal shootings were up much more sharply — by 46 percent, to 67 from 46.

In addition to the slain 26-year-old man, who died at a hospital, the quintuple shooting left a 46-year-old man shot in the buttocks, a 19-year-old man shot in the hand, and a 25-year-old man and a 35-year-old man shot in the back, police said. The victims were found separately over the course of more than an hour, with officers first responding to the area near the scene — ultimately determined to be in the 500 block of Bloom Street in Druid Heights — about 6:13 p.m., said Detective Jeremy Silbert, a police spokesman.

Silbert said at the scene Thursday night that it was too early to ascribe a motive, but he noted that two patrol officers were already in the area when they heard the gunshots and began investigating — even before the ShotSpotter alerts or 911 calls came in.

They immediately began investigating, he said, and quickly found two victims in the 500 block of Bloom Street. A third and fourth were found in the vicinity shortly thereafter, and a fifth victim was found at North Avenue and Monroe Street, he said.

But for the 26-year-old who died at a hospital, the victims are expected to survive, Silbert said.

The neighbor said violence makes it too dangerous to go to the corner store, or to sit on his front step in the summer. Still, he said he clung to hope that things would change under Harrison.

"We are hopeful that it will happen," he said.

The seven other victims shot in the city Thursday were shot in six incidents across the city.

AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon