Baltimore County had more homicides last year — 50 — than any other year on record, according to county police and Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics.

The 50 homicides surpassed the previous high of 43 set in 1992, according to FBI data tracking violent crime since 1985. The 2019 homicides are also an 85% increase over the prior year, when 27 people were killed in the county, according to police data.


On New Year’s Eve, county police found two people who had been fatally shot in Baltimore Highlands, a residential neighborhood southwest of Baltimore City. Brea S. Mitchell, 23, had been shot multiple times, and Antwan X. Jones, 25, had been shot at least once in the upper body.

Before 2019, Baltimore County homicides had fluctuated over the past decade from a low of 20 in 2010 to highs of 35 in 2016 and 2017.

Police also reported 54 nonfatal shootings in the county in 2019 and 56 in 2018.

Neighboring Anne Arundel County recorded 17 homicides in 2019, police said, compared with a total of 23 homicides in 2018. Howard County’s police department reported seven homicides in 2019, compared with one in 2018.

Baltimore City ended 2019 with 348 homicides, second only to 1993, when the city recorded 353 killings and had nearly 125,000 more people.

Prince George’s County is Maryland’s second-largest county — Baltimore County is third — and reported 75 homicides in 2019, up from 60 the previous year.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said Thursday that domestic violence and drug-related crimes contributed to the latest homicide count.

“Any homicide is completely unacceptable to me and I’m devastated for every single family that lost a loved one to a murder in Baltimore County this past year,” Olszewski said.

Olszewski sought to “keep things in context,” saying the county remains “a safe place to live, work and raise a family.”

Even so, he said, “any loss of life is one too many and any increase in our rate is deeply concerning.”

The Democratic county executive said the county is working on several strategies to address violent crime. For instance, Olszewski touted the county’s involvement in a new regional task force with the FBI and other federal agencies. He also said county police are in the process of establishing a “real-time crime center” to more effectively analyze crime data to better allocate resources.

The county is considering investments in programs that could help prevent people from getting involved in crime. For instance, Olszewski included funds in last year’s budget for two new Police Athletic League centers.

He also touted the county’s “historic investments” in education and said officials are looking at strategies to expand a youth summer employment program.

Officials also are examining policing strategies to ensure their neighborhoods remain safe, including dedicating more resources to crime prevention “in our hot spots across the county,” Olszewski said.


Olszewski said the county also is planning to ask the Maryland General Assembly during the legislative session for more resources to support the county’s “data-driven” policing strategies as well as its joint warrant and auto theft teams with Baltimore City officers.

“Those are both task forces that have been incredibly successful but have been under-resourced, and we could use additional support from a regional perspective from the state,” he said.

Attracting and retaining county police also will contribute to the county’s public safety strategy, he said. Olszewski said the department once had as many as 40 vacancies. That’s now been reduced to two, and the most recent academy class is expected to fully staff the department going forward.

Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt recently reorganized the police department’s patrol structure to establish three patrol areas where previously there were two, Olszewski said. She also added a captain’s position in the department who will serve as the night commander, he added.

Police staffing issues have been a concern for Republican Councilman David Marks, who praised Olszewski for working with the local police union in coming up with a salary package for officers.

While the 5th District Republican agreed with the county executive that the county “is still a safe place” to live, he added “there are real warning signs.”

“My constituents are increasingly anxious about the situation,” Marks said.

He attributed part of the rise in crime to the fact that the county is bordered by Baltimore City, which has “a mobile population that can easily cross over in the Baltimore County neighborhoods.”

And he blamed city officials, including the Baltimore police and the city’s State’s Attorney’s Office, for what he called a culture of leniency when it comes to dealing with the city’s criminals.

Despite his critique of city officials, Marks added that he feels it remains imperative for the county to work alongside the city in tackling the issue of violent crime moving forward.

Olszewski said the county also is going to work more closely with the division of Parole and Probation in the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to find ways to ensure that people released from prison will not commit crime in the future.

County homicide detectives, meanwhile, are investigating the New Year’s Eve shootings and asked people to call them at 410-307-2020 with information about the homicides.

Baltimore Sun reporter Phil Davis contributed to this article.