Baltimore's Killing Streets


An editorial in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly identified 11-year-old Maurice Ready as a child who was killed in random Baltimore street shootings. In fact, he was shot in the head two years ago but survived.

The Sun regrets the error.

Around 7 p.m. Wednesday, three-year-old Andre Antonio Dorsey became a statistic. Killed by a stray bullet in front of his family's East Baltimore home, the toddler became the 17th child under the age of 15 to be hit by gunfire in the city this year and the second such child to die.

This random gun violence has to stop. If gun fights continue, Baltimore City itself will become a victim, bleeding to death as criminals overtake neighborhoods and turn them into dysfunctional pockets of fear.

Compared to most recent shootings involving innocent bystanders, the circumstances leading to little Andre's death were somewhat unusual. Someone from the neighborhood, apparently recognizing a man who had robbed him a few days earlier at a liquor store, took revenge and started firing a revolver. One of the bullets hit Andre.

A more common gunfight in Baltimore these days involves New York thugs fighting over drugs. They are outsiders without neighborhood ties or regard for residents.

And their weapon of choice is not a revolver but a more lethal 9-mm pistol, which carries up to 19 rounds. As bullets get sprayed, innocent Baltimoreans die or get wounded. That's how 9-year-old Maurice Ready died in East Baltimore two years ago; that's how 6-year-old Tiffany Smith died a year ago as she played near her West Baltimore home, just to name two recent victims.

Shootings in which bystanders fall to random bullets are increasing nationwide as lethal, rapidly-firing pistols replace old-style revolvers. This is a sad fact, not an excuse for inaction.

The only way for Baltimore to stop this violence is to reclaim street corners and neighborhoods. The police ought to step up their fight against New York gunslingers.

Ordinary citizens also should take a stand by supporting such auxiliaries as Citizens on Patrol. Those citizen patrols, linked to police with cellular phones, provide valuable law-enforcement assistance through regular monitoring of streets. Volunteer patrol members are not vigilantes, just concerned residents who alert police to crime and suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

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