Baltimore police commissioner: Slain 65-year-old woman was innocent bystander of targeted attack

The 65-year-old woman who was fatally shot Saturday night on her West Baltimore porch was the innocent bystander in what detectives believe was a targeted attack on a 22-year-old man also killed in the encounter, Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said Monday.

“It’s 100 percent unacceptable,” De Sousa said Monday of Pinky Louise Ruffin’s killing, after he walked the cherry blossom-lined 3900 block of W. Mulberry St. in Allendale where she lived and was shot.

Ruffin’s family could not be reached for comment, and no one answered the door of her home.

De Sousa said police believe Marques Patterson, 22, was targeted in the attack, but declined to discuss the basis for that belief. Patterson’s family also could not be reached.

De Sousa said police still need to “peel some layers back” to reveal exactly what occurred before the shooting erupted on the street, but are making progress in the investigation. He declined to say if they had identified a suspect.

Ruffin and Patterson were both pronounced dead at an area hospital shortly after they were discovered suffering from gunshot wounds late Saturday night on the block.

They were two of five people killed in the city this weekend; more than a half-dozen others were injured in shootings.

Sahantana Williams, 20, was killed Friday in the 3000 block of Rayner Ave., in the nearby Franklintown Road neighborhood, police said Monday.

Raheem Bey, 25, was killed Friday in the 500 block of North East Ave., in the Ellwood Park neighborhood, police said.

And Jerod Watson, 24, was killed Sunday in the 3800 block of West Franklin Ave., also in Allendale, police said.

There has been a high volume of violence in recent months in the neighborhoods that line the U.S. 40 corridor as it cuts through West Baltimore between the Inner Harbor and Leakin Park, from Franklin Square to Penrose and Shipley Hill to Rognel Heights.

The weekend violence continued Monday when two people were shot and killed in East Baltimore.

The shooting occurred around 4 p.m. in the 1700 block of E. Federal St. The victims, a man and a woman, were taken to an area hospital, where they died from their wounds, police said.

A block away from the shooting, Will Richards walked slowly up the block holding a microphone in one hand and his smartphone in the other. Richards, a grass-roots journalist who grew up nearby, said violence has grown worse in recent years.

“We always had people selling drugs and shootings, but nothing like the shootings what’s going on right now,” he said. “It used to be a code of honor on the street where you don’t shoot women, children or old people.”

De Sousa said police have lots of intelligence about the weekend violence.

“We know who the main people are. We know what organizations are involved in this. And we had several meetings over the course of the weekend — Friday, Saturday and Sunday — coming up with how we could change our strategies,” he said. “We have a set of initiatives planned to target them directly.”

De Sousa said police have been tracking a string of retaliatory incidents since the fatal shooting of mother and daughter Chanette Neal, 43, and Justice Allen, 21, in their home in the unit block of Gorman Avenue in Penrose on April 4.

Police are also tracking what they believe has been retaliatory fallout from two separate gambling disputes, De Sousa said.

“It’s all related to those three separate incidents. It’s all those three,” he said.

He would not say whether the groups were known gangs or drug crews, but said “two separate sides are going at it with each other.” He also would not say what the new initiatives would involve — only that they would be “constitutional.”

De Sousa said he does not believe that the weekend violence threatens progress the department has made in reducing violence in the city from the historic levels seen last year, but that it must be — and will be — halted as soon as possible.

“The community is totally frustrated, and so are the men and women of the police department,” he said.

He said police are ready to hold those responsible accountable, and are working around the clock to do so.

“We are out and about. Everybody is engaged, in a constitutional manner, a proactive manner,” he said.

Still, detectives need more help in their investigations, he said.

“We need people to step up right now,” De Sousa said. “The great folks that live in the community, we just need them to step up, give us a lead, give us a tip, something.”

Police ask anyone with information to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100 or text 443-902-4824, or to call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCK-UP.

Baltimore Sun reporter Christina Tkacik contributed to this article.

krector@baltsun.com

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