Eight people were shot — including six in two triple shootings — Thursday night in Baltimore, an "intolerable" burst of violence that killed three and which police said would spur extra patrols going into Memorial Day weekend.
Hoping to avoid a replay of the 2010 Memorial Day weekend, during which nine people were killed, police said they would move some officers into patrol from administrative assignments and specialized units to beef up their presence downtown and in neighborhoods where the shootings took place Thursday.
"It's been a long time since Baltimore has seen shootings like we had" Thursday night, said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
The violence continued Friday with two more shootings.
Police said Thursday's shootings were targeted but acknowledged that some of the victims were bystanders. Among the victims was a 47-year-old woman; another was a 59-year-old woman. Such multiple shootings have been increasingly rare in recent years amid overall declines in crime.
The outburst of violence brought the yearly homicide total to 81, two more than at this time last year. Twenty people have been killed in May. Nonfatal shootings remain down, with 133 this year compared with 157 during the same period in 2011.
"You will have nights like" Thursday night, Guglielmi said. "There's no way to prevent that ... in Boston, Philadelphia or Washington. The most important part is how you respond to those incidents."
The first triple shooting occurred about 6 p.m. in the 2500 block of W. Fayette St. in Southwest Baltimore. The victims were sitting on the front steps of a home in the Shipley Hill neighborhood when at least one gunman opened fire.
Police said a 47-year-old woman was shot in the head, a 47-year-old man was wounded in the thigh and a 55-year-old man was hit in the upper body. Police confirmed that the woman died Friday afternoon but were waiting to notify family members before releasing her name. The 55-year-old man was listed in critical condition at an area hospital Friday, police said.
Guglielmi said detectives believe the motive for the shooting was an argument over a debt. Lt. Col. Garnell Green, the commander of the homicide unit, said the woman was the target, and tips were coming in to detectives from the public.
About 6:30 p.m., police responded to a fatal shooting in an alley in the 4600 block of York Road in North Baltimore near Guilford Elementary/Middle School. The victim has not been identified, but Green said police believe he was targeted.
About 8 p.m., police said three more people were shot in the 2600 block of East Preston St., in the Berea neighborhood. One victim, identified as Andre Curry, 28, was shot in the chest and died. A 53-year-old woman was struck in the foot and a 31-year-old man was shot in the shoulder, police said.
"Two of these individuals were known drug dealers in the area and were targeted," Green said. Of the investigation, he said: "The cooperation is not there. It's making it very difficult."
Anyone with information was asked to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.
After the Preston Street shooting, the Safe Streets anti-violence program sent a Twitter message that read, "Hearing of all the shootings across the city tonight. Please pray for the victims and their families. #stopshooting." The group was scheduled to hold a community block party Friday night in McElderry Park.
About 1 a.m. Friday, police responded to another shooting. A caller reported gunshots outside the Good Times Bar in the 1600 block of W. Baltimore St. Officers found a bullet near the front door and a victim a few blocks away on Frederick Road. Police said the man had been shot in the right leg and was treated at an area hospital.
About 10:45 p.m. Friday, police responded to another call for an adult male shot in the side near the intersection of S. Calhoun St. and W. Fayette St.
Guglielmi said Deputy Commissioner Anthony Barksdale had ordered more officers to the areas where the shootings occurred, deployments that come as the city has already directed extra officers to the downtown area after a series of attacks involving youths drew concern.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake toured the Inner Harbor and downtown area last week in the aftermath of the reported attacks. Asked about Thursday's violence, Rawlings-Blake replied on Twitter: "Our best investigators are working the cases and BPD has implemented additional deployments."
Baltimore Sun reporters Peter Hermann and Kevin Rector contributed to this article