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Fatal shootings mark 16 murders in first 12 days of 2014

By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

9:15 PM EST, January 13, 2014

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Two people were fatally shot Sunday night in Northwest Baltimore as homicides continue to surge, with 16 to start the year.

The shootings occurred about 75 minutes and a half-mile apart late Sunday. The first was just before 10 p.m. in the 3600 block of Reisterstown Road in the Park Circle neighborhood. A man was shot in the head and died at a hospital a short time later, police said.

At 11:15 p.m., police were dispatched to a shooting in the 3900 block of Edgewood Road in the East Arlington neighborhood. The victim had been shot several times and died at a hospital before midnight, police said. Police did not identify either of the victims or provide a possible motive.

The incidents capped a weekend that saw eight people shot across the city, three of them fatally. Among the victims was 28-year-old Ricky Mellerson, who was found shot early Saturday in a vehicle that flipped over while traveling through Mount Vernon on East Madison Street.

Police confirmed Monday that Mellerson was leaving the Casablanca Hookah Lounge in the 800 block of Guilford Ave. when the shooting occurred and that a female passenger was in the overturned vehicle. No additional details were provided and no arrests have been made.

Three people were also stabbed early Sunday after a melee at a downtown club.

Police Department data shows that even amid the spate of killings, other crime is down considerably to start the year. Robberies through Jan. 11 were down 49 percent, with 69 robberies compared with 135 at the same time last year. The statistics show aggravated assaults were down 23 percent, burglaries were down 23 percent, and larcenies were down 39 percent.

But homicides, with 16 through Sunday, were up, compared with five at the same time last year. Over the weekend, police identified a stabbing victim from Friday morning in the 2500 block of Frederick Ave. as 17-year-old Dejuan Willis. He is the youngest of this year's victims.

And the man fatally shot in the 7000 block of McClean Blvd. on Friday evening was identified as Bennett Daniel, 35.

Other victims this year have included a father and his son, along with a grocery store employee shot inside the South Smallwood Street store during a robbery.

On Monday, the Family Tree, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent child abuse and neglect, reopened after being closed Friday when it became a crime scene connected to a murder-suicide.

Robert Hopkins, 28, a man police officials accused of carrying out a "one-man crime spree" that included a shooting and robbery over the past three weeks, killed a man Friday in a carjacking attempt on Maryland Avenue. Hopkins, police said, then barricaded himself inside the Family Tree's building on North Charles Street.

Police said Hopkins then killed himself in the center, which was not occupied at the time.

The center opened only to staff on Monday as it held an employee debriefing and support session with a trauma expert, Executive Director Patricia Cronin said. Employees were told counseling was available.

"We look forward to resuming our important work to prevent child abuse and build strong families and communities," Cronin said.

Baltimore Sun staff writer Justin George contributed to this article.

jfenton@baltsun.com