Edgewood crime issues

Maj. Jack Meckley of the Harford County Sheriff's Office speaks about law enforcement efforts to reduce crime in Edgewood neighborhoods during a meeting of the Edgewood Community Council Thursday evening. Capt. Jon Krass, commander of the Sheriff's Office Southern Precinct, which serves Edgewood, looks on. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun Media Group / July 10, 2014)

The Windsor Valley neighborhood has been the scene of a fatal shooting and four nonfatal stabblings during the past two weeks, part of a larger recent pattern of violence in the Edgewood area of Harford County, but that could change with an investment of millions of dollars by its new owner to revitalize Windsor Valley.

In addition, top police officials said they will start ridding the community of known troublemakers and will continue to monitor two convenience stores next to the community where raids last month resulted in the seizure of suspected illegal synthetic drugs and drug paraphernalia.

"We're going to be able to regrow a strong community in Windsor Valley," said Bryan Shumway, vice president of Wishrock Housing Partners & Investment Group.

Shumway spoke during Thursday night's monthly meeting of the Edgewood Community Council, which was mostly taken up with a discussion about recent serious crimes in the community, especially the fatal shooting followed by four nonfatal stabbings in late June in neighborhoods along Hanson Road that all have a history of violent crime.

Sheriff Jesse Bane and his top commanders, plus State's Attorney Joseph Cassilly, spoke with residents about their concerns. A half dozen Windsor Valley residents also attended, along with a number of religious and civic leaders in Edgewood. The meeting was held at the Harford County Sheriff's Office Southern Precinct in Joppa.

New ownership

Wishrock, which has offices in Portland, Maine, and Missoula, Mont., purchased 283 out of the 574 townhouse and apartment units in Windsor Valley last week, and company officials plan to eventually purchase the remaining units.

Shumway said company officials plan to invest $13 million in "restoring the dignity of the homes" with major retrofits to parts of the units such as the kitchens, bathrooms and lighting.

The rental housing community, originally called Meadowood, dates to the late 1960s/early 1970s, and has a succession of owners, as well as a long history of criminal activity, including murders, muggings and gang activity. A man was found fatally shot on one of Windsor Valley's sidewalks on June 25.

Capt. James Eyler, commander of the Sheriff's Office's Criminal Investigations Division, said the stabbings, which occurred in three separate incidents over two nights, are not related to the homicide, when he was asked about the crimes by one resident. He said he could not provide more details since all the incidents remain under "active" investigation.

"The short answer would be, 'No,' on that," Eyler said of any relationship. Prior to Thursday, the Sheriff's Office had said it was looking into any possible relationships between the homicide and the stabbings, the latter which may have involved robberies in at least two instances, investigators have said.

Capt. Jon Krass, commander of the Southern Precinct, noted nearly all Part 1 crimes for the Edgewood sector that took place in the first half of 2014 have declined compared to the same period of 2013. Police agencies classify murder/manslaughter, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft and arson as Part 1 crimes.

'Progress' cited

There have been two instances of murder or manslaughter in 2014, compared to three for 2013, three rapes for 2014 compared to eight for 2013, 36 burglaries for 2014 compared to 69 in the first half of 2013, according to crime statistics provided by Krass.

He said the only Part 1 crime that has increased from last year is larceny/theft, which increased by 3 percent from 126 to 131 thefts.

Krass said law enforcement officials do not take recent violent events "lightly."

"We are making progress," Krass said. "I think that the deputies and troopers that work in this area are striving to make Edgewood a better community."

Maj. Jack Meckley, who was recently promoted to bureau chief for police services, meaning he oversees the northern and southern precincts, special operations and patrol services, spoke about how resources have been deployed to Edgewood based on detailed analysis of crime data.

He and Krass stressed the need for community assistance in preventing and solving crime, and they lauded those who have helped with investigations and people who call the police when they see or hear something wrong.

Meckley said law enforcement is working with the community and property managers in Windsor Valley. Lynette Barmer, resident services manager for Windsor Valley, noted a private security firm is also keeping watch.