More than a dozen shootings over the past two days, most involving teen-agers, left Baltimore officials searching for answers and calling for the immediate reinstatement of a nighttime curfew.
Three people died and at least 12 were wounded in a surge of violence that began at 8:50 a.m. Sunday and continued into yesterday afternoon.
Police officers, paramedics and doctors struggled to cope with the aftermath. The unwelcome reprise of summer nights past had City Council members vowing to act this week to bring back a curfew for juveniles, which the police chief suspended Friday out of constitutional concerns.
"What is really disconcerting is that kids are now seeing guns as a way to settle disputes," said Vera P. Hall, the council's vice president. "We used to get mad and stop speaking to people. Now they get mad and shoot you. That's not something government can do a whole lot about."
On Sunday, 11 people were shot, all but one under 20 years old. Most occurred from 10 p.m. to midnight and included two triple shootings.
Four more people were shot yesterday afternoon, but their identities and the circumstances were not available last night.
But sparse details so far showed everything from a boyfriend-girlfriend dispute to arguments over drugs, robberies and one incident that began as a fight between two groups of warring teen-age girls.
"It's just random violence," said Maj. Wendell France, commander of the homicide unit.
"We've had spurts like this before, but I don't think we've seen anything like this on a Sunday night."
The city has endured other violent weekends, but the unusual number of youngsters involved last weekend concerned the department, Major France said.
"That seems to be the trend now: Young people shooting young people."
On Friday, Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier suspended the year-old curfew, designed to keep youths off the city's increasingly dangerous streets after 11 p.m. His action came after the state's highest court struck down an almost identical curfew in Frederick.
"We must have that curfew in effect because how else are the police going to be allowed to stop youth after 11 o'clock and search them for weapons?" said state Del. Clarence Davis.
"This is an emergency, in our view," said Councilman Lawrence A. Bell III, who represents West Baltimore's 4th District. "We have gotten calls all day from people who are in support of the law, and from neighborhoods where kids are out a lot late at night."
The violence Sunday started when 32-year-old Kelvin Floyd Barnes was gunned down in the 500 block of Sanford Place, in West Baltimore, about 8:50 a.m. He was shot three times, twice in the head.
Less than three hours later, Christine Anne Murray, 15, was shot in the left cheek, allegedly by her 15-year-old boyfriend, during an argument in her Gay Street house.
Police said she lost the tip of her index finger when she tried to protect her head. Christine was in critical condition yesterday at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The next wave began shortly after 10 p.m., when Reggie Gross, 15, was shot in the groin during a robbery attempt in Northeast Baltimore.
Police said an armed man demanded that Reggie "Give up the ready," a reference to "Ready Rock," a street name for crack cocaine. When the victim said he didn't have any drugs, he was shot, police said.
Fifteen minutes later in the Northeast, a 15- and a 16-year-old were wounded in a drive-by shooting.
One hour later, about a mile away, three teens were injured when one man in a group opened fire.
And shortly before midnight, three more teens were shot -- this time after a daylong dispute between two rival groups of girls that ended with their male friends shooting it out on a West Baltimore street.
As the violence continued, Dr. David Nicolaou, the attending emergency room doctor at Johns Hopkins, led teams throughout a night that he said "taxed the resources of the department." At one time, he said, all four critical-care rooms were occupied with shooting victims.
"The idea that we can't do anything about the violence is a little more defeatist than I would portray it," Dr. Nicolaou said. "If I felt helpless, it is that it is still way too difficult to convince people that violence is society's problem and that we all have to act on it."
City Council members said the latest statistics underscored the need for a curfew. The law enacted by the council last year prohibits children under the age of 17 from being outside their homes after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Council President Mary Pat Clarke announced plans yesterday to call the 19-member council, now in summer recess, into an emergency session Wednesday and again Friday to alter the law. Mr. Bell, who chairs the council's public safety committee, -- will hold public hearings Wednesday and Thursday nights.
"We cannot afford to hold off," Mrs. Clarke said.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke pledged to come up with another curfew, but said it would take until fall for the Law Department to research and prepare a bill that would pass constitutional
But one council member questioned whether a curfew can solve the escalating crime. "I think it's a failure of the community at large," said Carl Stokes, who represents the 2nd District. "Why are we taking children off the street? To protect themselves? Or to protect us?"
DEADLY SHOOTINGS IN BALTIMORE
In five separate incidents over a span of slightly more than 13 hours Sunday, 10 people were shot in Baltimore -- all age 14 to 19:
TIME, PLACE, VICTIM
1. 10:45 a.m., 1400 block of N. Gay St., Christine Anne Murray (4),15.
2. 10:08 p.m., 5200 block of Frankford Ave., Reggie Gross(1), 15
3. 10:16 p.m., 3000 block of Independence Ave., Allen Smith(2) 15, and Koreem George(2), 16
4. 11:14 p.m., 3200 block of Belair Road, Anthony Darnell Brown (5) 19, Peter Hockaday(4), 14, and Jamal Terry(2), 15
5. 11:50 p.m., 2000 block of N. Pulaski St., Davoine Green(1), 18, Alan Bolger(3) 19, and Carlita Brown(6) 16
Yesterday, starting at 6 a.m., at least four more people were shot in Baltimore. Details were not immediately available.
1 -- Released from hospital, 2 -- Fair condition, 3 -- Serious condition, 4 -- Critical condition, 5 -- Died, 6 -- Condition unavailable.