Baltimore Police commanders scrambled Saturday to redeploy officers to hot spots across the city after a burst of violence claimed three more lives, including the 29-year-old nephew of City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young.
Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said he had initiated a "tactical alert" for two hours Saturday evening. Officers responded to only the most serious crimes as commanders assessed the situation.
Dayside officers were kept on duty into the evening, and special enforcement and operational units were called in.
"The current pace of violence is outrageous and will not be tolerated," Batts said.
The killings of two men and a woman in separate incidents Saturday brought the number of homicides in the city this year to 54 — 20 percent ahead of the 45 killed through the first three months of 2014. Nonfatal shootings are also up.
Young announced his nephew's death on his personal Facebook page.
"Some Coward shot my Nephew in the head at Elmley and Belair Road," he wrote. "He passed from his injuries."
Reached by telephone, Young confirmed that the victim was his nephew but said that he couldn't talk. He did not give his nephew's name.
A spokesman for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she had been in contact with Young.
She later tweeted: "I want [to] offer my most sincere condolences to Council President Young and his family during this very difficult time.
"One senseless tragedy is more than any of us should have to bear," she continued. "We will continue to put more police on the streets and we will maintain our intense focus on violent repeat offenders."
Young's nephew was one of at least four people attacked in Baltimore on Saturday, and one of three to die.
A 36-year-old woman was stabbed to death and a 30-year-old woman was wounded in a fight involving several people on Edmondson Avenue in West Baltimore early Saturday, police said.
Later in the day, a 28-year-old man was found near the intersection of Pulaski and Vine streets in West Baltimore with multiple gunshot wounds. The victim, later identified as Jamar Green, of the 1500 block of W. Fayette St., died at an area hospital, police said.
Batts called a news conference Saturday evening to address the mayhem.
Asked about the increase in shootings and homicides this year, he said the city saw a rise in violence in January, but has been "chasing that spike" since, and managed to bring numbers down in February and March.
Batts spoke of the perennial challenge posed by gangs fighting over drug turf. But he blamed the violence Saturday on the "weather breaking" and on the start Friday of spring break for city students, both of which he said have drawn more people outdoors.
He said he worked late Friday night into Saturday morning, and saw "a lot of people in the city out on the streets."
Commanders plan to revisit decisions about deploying more officers on a day-to-day basis.
Police and city officials announced a new patrol schedule in January that they said would put more officers on the streets when they are needed most, while giving officers more time off and reducing overtime spending.
The shift, made possible by a new police union contract, was instituted in part to control overtime costs associated with spikes in crime.
Batts said the plan would give the department "the ability to rapidly shift officers when we see emerging crime trends."
Rawlings-Blake said it would give Batts "the power to quickly and more efficiently flood neighborhoods experiencing increased violence."
In the case of Young's nephew, officers were called to the 3200 block of Elmley Avenue in Northeast Baltimore shortly after 1:30 p.m. Saturday on a report of a shooting, Baltimore Police Detective Jeremy Silbert said.
They found the victim with a gunshot wound in the head, Silbert said. He was taken to an area hospital, where he died.
Silbert did not identify the man as Young's nephew. He said police do not have a description of a suspect or know of a motive for the shooting.
Maj. Stanley Brandford, who oversees the department's homicide unit, said the investigation is in the "very early stages," and it was too early to say if any of the killings Saturday were connected.
Batts said the department always looks for connections between violent incidents.
Young asked "anyone [who] saw anything" in his nephew's shooting to contact police "immediately."
"These [senseless] killings [have] got to stop."
It was the second of three killings Saturday. Officers on patrol in the 2800 block of Edmondson Avenue at 1:15 a.m. came upon several people fighting, Silbert said.
A 36-year-old woman had been stabbed in the abdomen, Silbert said. She was taken to a local hospital, where she died.
A 30-year-old woman was stabbed in the leg, he said. She was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
"Investigators believe the victims were involved in an altercation with other individuals when they were stabbed," Silbert said. He said several "persons of interest" were taken into custody for questioning.
The third victim of the day was discovered near the intersection of Pulaski and Vine streets shortly before 4 p.m.
Silbert asked witnesses to any of the attacks to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100.
Councilman Brandon Scott, the vice chairman of the public safety committee, expressed his condolences to Young and others who lost family members Saturday.
"No one should have to endure a loss of life like that. It doesn't matter who it is in the city," he said. "It shows none of us are exempt, and that we all have to address the issue together."
Scott said police commanders assured him Saturday night that "they have a lot of officers out on the street and they're going to make sure that they maintain and make a show of force."
He said the violence would be addressed at a previously scheduled police oversight hearing this month.
Rawlings-Blake lost a cousin to gun violence in 2013. Joseph Haskins, 20, was shot inside a house just blocks from his family's home in the Northwest Baltimore neighborhood of Forest Park in May 2013.
Baltimore Sun reporters Jacques Kelly and Colin Campbell contributed to this article.