Four people were killed and six others were wounded during a violent two-day period in Baltimore that started Thursday -- pushing the number of homicides beyond last year's total of 325.
As of last night -- when a 19-year-old man was fatally shot on the street in East Baltimore -- 329 people had been killed in the city, compared with 320 at the same time last year.
Yesterday afternoon, a young man in his 20s was gunned down on the sidewalk in front of a group of rowhouses in Southwest Baltimore. Baltimore homicides have continued despite a drop in the number of shootings and a 10 percent decline in violent crime, the first significant decreases since crack cocaine flooded city streets in 1986 and triggered sharp increases in murders, shootings and robberies.
"It's been a little a busy," Maj. Goldie S. Phillips Jr., commander of the homicide unit, said of the recent spate of shootings. "We did bypass last year, but we hope not to go too far above that. We just keep trying."
The latest shooting occurred shortly before 7 p.m. yesterday when police responding to a shooting call in the 700 block of E. North Ave. found the 19-year-old victim shot twice in the head. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His name was not released because relatives had not been notified.
Yesterday afternoon's homicide occurred about 1: 15 p.m. in the 3300 block of W. Caton Ave. A woman who lives nearby said a man sneaked up behind the victim and fired four or five quick shots while discreetly holding the gun at his waist and covering part of his face with a jacket hood.
"He just shot, pow, pow, pow," said the woman, who saw the shooting and knows the victim but asked that she not be identified. "I don't understand it. The guy just kept shooting. He shot him after he was on the ground."
Police had not released the victim's name and had made no arrests by yesterday evening.
In an unrelated shooting about 2 a.m. yesterday, two people were wounded -- one fatally -- in the 2300 block of Prentiss Place in East Baltimore. A 22-year-old man was wounded in the right hand. A 20-year-old man who had not been identified by last evening was hit several times in the back and died at 7 a.m. at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
A series of shootings Thursday began about 3: 45 p.m. when a man was shot in the buttocks during a robbery at an Amoco gas station in Northwest Baltimore. Police said the gunman escaped with $100.
About 5 p.m., two people were shot -- one fatally -- in the 2900 block of Westwood Ave. in West Baltimore. About 8 p.m., a 30-year-old man was wounded in the buttocks when he was shot during an argument over $10 in East Baltimore. And about 9: 30 p.m., also in East Baltimore, a 40-year-old man was shot in the leg during a robbery attempt in the 1300 block of N. Bond St.
During the first nine months of this year, the most recent statistics available, violent crime overall dropped 10 percent, falling in every category except homicide and auto theft.
The number of slayings in Baltimore spiked during the first part of the year. In March, there were 26 more slayings than at the same time last year, creating concern that the record of 353 slayings set in 1993 might be broken.
But the homicide pace has slowed. City officials remain concerned that despite a sharp decrease in the number of shootings since 1993, the mortality rate has risen. Fire Department statistics show that 20 percent of all shooting victims have no heartbeat when paramedics reach the scene, compared with 9 percent in 1995.
City officials have begun to study the ways gunshot victims are treated to determine what is causing the anomaly. They are setting up a computer database to analyze every shooting report since 1989.
pTC Phillips, the homicide commander, said patrol officers have done a good job preventing shootings by targeting guns.
But to residents like the woman who witnessed yesterday's shooting -- which occurred in broad daylight on a neighborhood sidewalk -- one slaying is enough. All she could do was stand in her front yard and stare at the body covered by a white sheet.
"Who knows why?" she said. "Nobody needs a reason anymore, as long as they have a gun in their hand. It's so sad."
Pub Date: 12/28/96