Seven people — including a 15-year-old boy who was killed — were shot in West Baltimore on Saturday night as police grapple with a recent wave of shootings with multiple victims.
As of Sunday, nonfatal shootings were up in Baltimore by about 23 percent over the same time last year, according to data available through the city's website. Recent weeks have been marked with what Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts dubbed "cluster" shootings, including a quadruple shooting in Pigtown that killed two and a triple shooting in East Baltimore that injured a 7-year-old boy.
"Seven people shot in a cluster is outrageous for the city and it's unacceptable for us as a whole," Batts said near the scene shortly after Saturday night's shooting, which happened in the 1500 block of W. Fayette St. Police said Deshaun Jones, who turned 15 last month, was killed, while six adults were expected to survive their gunshot wounds.
Batts said hundreds of officers were deployed in the neighborhood where the shooting took place Saturday night, though many of them were dealing with a nearby block party at the time. He said his command staff is investigating whether there is a particular cause for the rise of the multiple-victim shootings, though he said the number of shooting incidents remains about the same as it has over the last few years.
Batts said police have made recent progress in taking illegal guns off the street and in making quality arrests, but said Baltimore residents must take responsibility for violence.
"We have to modify our behavior," said Batts, referring to the citizenry and explaining that police cannot be stationed on every block. "This is not how you deal with conflict."
At about 4 p.m. Sunday, police were investigating another shooting — this time in the 4000 block of Norfolk Ave. in Forest Park. A 27-year-old man was shot multiple times and pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after.
Saturday's shooting began over a dice game, according to Batts. He said it was not yet known what the exact source of the conflict was, but that typically when violence arises over dice games, it is because someone tries to rob a player. Along one side of the trash-strewn street on Saturday night, police placed more than a dozen evidence markers over potential shell casings, with that evidence spread out over a half-block.
A couple of the victims ran a couple of blocks away to flag down police while others took themselves to a hospital after they were shot at about 9:15 p.m. Batts said many of the victims had prior criminal records and at least one of them had survived a previous shooting. Police did not know Saturday night whether the 15-year-old victim was an intended target.
Saturday's shooting had the largest number of victims shot at once since 2009, when a dozen people, including a pregnant woman and a 2-year-old child, were wounded when gunmen opened fire at a backyard cookout in East Baltimore.
In 2012, police saw a different trend, in which gunmen missed their targets less frequently. About 60 percent of those killed in shootings last year were shot in the head, with many of those executions between two warring gangs, police said.
In June, 18-year-old Donyae Jones was killed in a quintuple shooting in East Baltimore's Madison-Eastend neighborhood. Last week, William Monroe and Meaghan Kerrigan were shot and killed in their Pigtown neighborhood home along with Monroe's mother and the mother's friend. And the weekend prior, a 7-year-old boy and two men were shot and injured on the street in the Johnston Square neighborhood.
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