West Baltimore shooting

A Baltimore City Police squad car patrols the Penn North neighborhood at the 2300 block of McCulloh Street near Whitelock Street. (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun / September 6, 2013)

Police found a gunshot victim Friday on a sidewalk just south of Druid Hill Park, another in a series of deadly shootings in the neighborhood that has capped a bloody summer and shaken residents who have not seen such violence in years.

The shooting took place in the Penn North neighborhood, along the border with Reservoir Hill and within a few blocks of several other recent incidents. Though it was Penn North's first homicide of the year, Reservoir Hill has recorded two in the past week — bringing that neighborhood's total to five — more than twice the number killed all of last year there.

"It's disconcerting," said Ellis Brown, who has lived in Reservoir Hill for about five years and noted that the up-and-coming neighborhood has improved greatly from the days when it was "a real hotbed of drug trafficking."

"Today it is a thousand percent better," he said of the neighborhood, lined with historic Victorian homes. "But even 1,000 percent better means we still have some issues in the area."

Neighbors came together Friday evening in Reservoir Hill to decry the violence that has recently plagued the community.

Councilman Nick Mosby, who represents the area, hosted a rally at West North Avenue and McCulloh Street in the wake of several killings in the past few weeks. The assembly was part of Mosby's Enough Is Enough series, which has occurred weekly since April and targets neighborhoods that have experienced high levels of violence. The rallies take place at a different Baltimore street corner each Friday at 7 p.m., Mosby said.

"Getting together like this — it shows that there are people that do care about what is going on here," said David Little, a 46-year-old Druid Heights resident.

At a community meeting, Brown said, police told residents that the victims and suspects were not believed to be from the community and that some of the violence had spilled over from other areas.

Lt. J. Eric Kowalczyk, a Baltimore police spokesman, said in an interview that officers will have an increased presence in the area for the foreseeable future. "We want people to see officers out there," he said.

Kowalczyk said police have made arrests related to the recent spate of violence but declined to provide details, citing ongoing investigations.

Only two homicides were reported in Reservoir Hill all of last year, and three in 2011. Penn North had three homicides in 2012 and one the year before.

John Mack, 53, has lived for 30 years in the 2300 block of McCulloh St., which forms the dividing line between the two neighborhoods, and has witnessed many ups and downs. Though he said he lost his mother and a nephew to street crime, he'd never been scared in his own home before.

"I have been awful leery these last few weeks," said Mack, who runs a day care center from his home. "The problem is that the police have been more reactionary than proactive," he said, adding that he observes more violence now from his own porch.

Waiting for a ride at her home in the same block, Michelle Jackson, 43, said she's also on edge. "I don't feel comfortable being out here anymore," said Jackson, sitting on the steps of her townhouse.

A spike in shootings in such as small area is unusual but not unprecedented in recent months as Baltimore has seen an increase in violence.

City police took the rare step in July of using metal fences to close off a block of Bennett Place in the Harlem Park neighborhood after three people were shot to death in the area over the course of several months.

The Penn North homicide occurred about 12:43 a.m. Friday in the 1200 block of W. North Ave. Police released few details but said they had found a man on the sidewalk with gunshot wounds to his upper body. He was taken to an area hospital, where he died at 1:15 a.m., police said.

That incident came on the heels of a man being shot and wounded in Reservoir Hill on Tuesday, a man beaten to death Monday and a man shot and killed Sunday, Baltimore police said.

The nonfatal shooting Tuesday morning occurred in the 2400 block of McCulloh St. The beating of Donald Robinson, 52, on Monday occurred in the 800 block of Lennox St. And the fatal shooting of Brandon Davis, 27, occurred in the 1100 block of Whitelock St., police said.

The North Avenue and McCulloh Street shootings fell on the borders of Penn North, while the Lennox Street beating and the Whitelock Street shooting occurred in Reservoir Hill.

The Lennox Street location is about a 15-minute walk from the other three, which are all within a few blocks of one another.

Mosby said Friday that the recent violence is being caused by repeat offenders who are causing "continual mayhem" in neighborhoods that are otherwise primed for improvement.

He said it is imperative to develop a criminal justice system that is tough on violent offenders and keeps them off the streets.

"We're losing lives and it's affecting the perception of the city," Mosby said. "If we're trying to sell folks on the city, we need to invest in transforming neighborhoods like Reservoir Hill."

Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.

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