Surge in city shootings, with four more shot overnight

One person was killed and three were wounded in shootings Tuesday night and Wednesday morning as a surge in violence that began Friday continued.

The shootings come on the heels of a weekend that saw eight people shot, followed by a drive-by fatal shooting Monday night in the Bayview neighborhood. Several of the incidents appear to have stemmed from robbery attempts, and others have occurred in neighborhoods not typically associated with gun violence in the city.

Because of a similar rash of shootings last year – 18 people were shot the weekend of March 20, 2011 – shootings were actually down compared with last year, with 72 shot compared to 76 at this time last year.

Data provided at a meeting of criminal justice leaders last week showed that 90 people had been shot or killed as of March 12, the highest level since 2009 but half as many as 2007, when 175 people had been shot or killed at that point.

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, who held a press conference to decry the violence last year at this time, was not made available to discuss the recent shootings. The head of criminal investigations, Col. Jesse Oden, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The latest killing occurred near the Coppin State University campus, near the intersection of West North Avenue and Ashburton Street. A 23-year-old man was found at about 9:30 p.m. with a gunshot wound to the chest, and was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center where he was pronounced dead.

Police said a "person of interest" had been taken into custody but not charged as of Wednesday morning.

The shooting occurred in an area designated Monday as the next site for the Safe Streets violence intervention program. The announcement came as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake kicked off national Youth Violence Prevention week at Frederick Douglass High School. The Greater Mondawmin Safe Streets site is expected to begin work in the summer, but organizers say recent violence has increased their sense of urgency.

"We've got to get started with this," said the Rev. Franklin Lance, president of the Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council. "Lives are at stake."

Another man was gravely wounded in a shooting reported shortly after 11 p.m., when a 20-year-old man was shot in the head in 500 block of E. 21st St., along the border of the East Baltimore Midway and Barclay neighborhoods, police said.

At the scene Wednesday morning, homicide detectives were seen walking through a vacant lot in the block, across from a large community garden.

At least one of the overnight shootings was believed to be a robbery attempt. Police said a 49-year-old man was pumping gas at a station in the 4500 block of Edmondson Ave. at about 9 p.m. when an unknown man approached and asked him for a ride, offering to pay.

They drove just a few blocks, to the intersection at Woodington Road, when the passenger pulled a gun and attempted to rob the driver. There was a struggle, police said, at which point the victim was shot in the stomach. Police said the suspect fled on foot, and the victim was taken to an area hospital where he was listed in serious condition.

The victim was found in Rognel Heights, where two men were shot in the 700 block of N. Woodington Road during a robbery attempt last week. And earlier Tuesday, friends and family of David McClaughlin had met for a candlelight vigil commemorating the one-year anniversary of the killing of the city Department of Public Works employee, who was jumped and fatally stabbed at the same gas station in the 4500 block of Edmondson Avenue.

In Northwest Baltimore, police said a 54-year-old man was walking in the 3700 block of Woodbine Ave. in the Liberty Heights neighborhood when two suspects pulled a gun on him. He reached for the gun and was shot in the hand. Police didn't have a motive, but described the suspects as two black men, one wearing a black sweater and dark pants, the other dressed in a brown hooded shirt and dark pants.

Police still have not identified a man shot Monday night in the Bayview community of Southeast Baltimore, who was shot and killed by a passing vehicle while stopped at an intersection in the 6400 block of E. Pratt St.

Sun reporter Mary Gail Hare contributed to this article.