Weekend's shootings obscure year's progress

The spate of shootings Sunday night and early Monday morning culminated a bloody weekend in which about two dozen people were shot, including four who were killed. But the violence belies police statistics that show shootings and overall gun crimes are down significantly from last year.

Baltimore officials were in no mood to boast about the numbers Monday afternoon as they discussed the shooting incidents and the police response, but Mayor Sheila Dixon touted the achievements at a police graduation ceremony last week that coincided with Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III's two-year anniversary in the job.

"For the last two years, we have hit record numbers that you cannot compare the last 10, 15, 20 years," Dixon said at last week's ceremony.

"We've broken history in this city, by reducing homicides and reducing violent crime across the city. We have a plan."

Baltimore recorded a 20-year low in homicides last year with 234 slayings, and could come close to that figure again.

Homicides are up 6.6 percent, with 130 people having been killed as of Monday morning, compared with 122 during the like period last year.

Shootings, however, are down markedly, with about 100 fewer people who were shot and survived. Even as at least 18 people were shot Sunday night, nonfatal shootings remain down 29.4 percent for the year, with 230 people shot as of Monday morning compared with 326 at this point last year.

Still, high-profile incidents such as the July 2 shooting of 5-year-old Raven Wyatt, who was struck with an errant bullet, and Sunday's wave of violence have kept crime in the forefront.