The Harford County Sheriff's Office will launch a summer crime-fighting initiative and community leaders are planning a "healing night and vigil" for Edgewood after a spate of violence around the Grempler Way area that culminated in the murder of a man on Saturday night.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no arrests have been made in connection with the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Quinton Stokes in the 1800 block of Grempler Way shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday.
Mr. Stokes' murder followed two weeks in which several incidents of gun violence were reported in the Edgewater Village community, a longtime crime hotspot in Harford County.
Sheriff Jesse Bane said Tuesday afternoon he has not seen police reports from the latest crimes and can't say what is causing the escalation of violence in the community.
He added, however, that he wants to get out in front of the problem before the community gets fearful to a point where it won't be willing to work with police.
Because of the "anti-snitching mind set" and people being afraid to come forward, Bane explained, "I wouldn't ask the community to work with us if we couldn't provide a degree of safety for them."
He said he would work on ways to make people feel safe to anonymously talk to the police and to know that law enforcement will keep them safe.
"We have had a number of incidents there within a very short period of time, and we were doing quite a bit to make sure nothing more would happen," the sheriff added. "Now that we have got a homicide, we just have to kick it up a notch."
Around 10:16 p.m. Saturday, Harford County Sheriff's deputies responded to multiple calls of shots fired with at least one person injured. When they arrived, deputies found Mr. Stokes, whose last known address was in the 1300 block of Gold Meadow Way, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, according an earlier news release from the Sheriff's Office.
Emergency medical personnel from the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company treated Mr. Stokes at the scene before he was flown by Maryland State Police Medevac to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He died from his injuries shortly before midnight, according to the release.
Witnesses reported seeing a black man wearing tan shorts running from the area.
On June 10, a 15-year-old boy was grazed in the stomach by a bullet; another 15-year-old boy is charged in the case with attempted murder and first-degree assault.
Deputies responded to the same area June 14 for reports of shots fired near Brookside Drive and Grempler Way.
Earlier Tuesday, Bane announced in a news release that he is creating a "strategic, summer initiative" to try to address the violence, starting with a community meeting planned for July 3 at 7 p.m. at the Edgewood Recreation Center.
Bane said in the release the summer initiative will "bring every resource the [Harford County Sheriff's Office] has to offer to the Edgewood communities."
"The streets of Edgewood do not belong to the criminal element. Every member of the Harford County Sheriff's Office is highly resolved to ensure that does not happen and the good people of Edgewood can continue to live in their communities without fear," Bane said in the statement, adding his deputies have been working "tirelessly, around the clock, to respond to the violence that has recently erupted."
"As you know, our detectives have been actively investigating the series of shootings for the past several weeks," Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cristie Kahler wrote in an e-mail Monday.
"At the same time we have been increasing patrol and visibility in the neighborhood and using all traditional means to bring closure to these cases," Kahler added.