He said police were also focused on a recent non-fatal shooting of a "heavy player" that occurred in Northeast Baltimore, and said he was "very concerned" about the Northwestern District, in particular the Belvedere Avenue and Park Heights corridors.

But Skinner sought to assure council members that police are on top of the violence, weaving together several seemingly disparate strings of bloodshed and explaining how they were connected.

He said police had arrested most of the key players in an east side-west side war that had been touched off by a fight at a downtown nightclub and included a shooting that injured six and killed 15-year-old Deshaun Jones.

Skinner said a 23-year-old who he alleged was responsible for multiple incidents of violence around Gilmor Homes and North Avenue had been charged in a federal indictment in November, and said police separately "got creative" to bring charges against an alleged "gun for hire."

Both are charged in drug cases and not accused of violence, but face significant federal prison time if convicted.

West Baltimore was the hardest-hit district last year, and Skinner attributed some of problems to shifting organizational structure.

"We continue to try to hold the ground," Skinner said, adding that the lucrative drug trade in some areas makes that a challenge.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George contributed to this article.

jfenton@baltsun.com