Killings in city hit 200

The Baltimore Sun

Two hundred people have been killed in Baltimore this year - a mark reached more than a month earlier than in 2006, police reported yesterday.

At this pace, Baltimore could record 313 homicides by Dec. 31, exceeding 300 annual killings for the first time since the 1990s.

The latest homicides include the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old in West Baltimore over the weekend and the medical examiner's classification as homicide the death of a woman who was beaten Aug. 13 and died three days later.

The spike in homicides has become the most significant issue in this year's Sept. 11 Democratic primary election. Several candidates have offered proposals to deal with the problem, including hiring more police officers, offering salary increases and putting more officers on foot patrols.

Mayor Sheila Dixon has been criticized by some for moving away from the zero-tolerance policy adopted by her predecessor, Gov. Martin O'Malley. She has often said the city "cannot arrest its way out of the problem," but she has recently called for a balance between targeting quality-of-life crimes and more violent acts.

Last month, Dixon fired Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm and replaced him, at least temporarily, with Frederick H. Bealefeld III.

In 2006, Baltimore did not reach the 200-murder mark until the last week of September, according to police records. Police officials note that the pace of homicides and nonfatal shootings has slowed in the past 30 days.

Yesterday, Police identified the victim of Saturday night's homicide as Darius Cox, 17, of the 2200 block of Walbrook Ave., who was shot while walking in the 2400 block of Woodbrook Ave. Court records show that Cox was convicted as an adult May 30 of assault and sentenced to 10 years in prison - with the judge suspending all but a month.

Yesterday, city police also reported that the death of a woman Thursday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center has been ruled a homicide. Police said Ramona Bradley, 40, who lived with a relative at an undisclosed location in East Baltimore, was found severely beaten about 11 p.m. Aug. 13 in the 1100 block of Harper Way in Armistead Gardens.

No arrests have been made.

Sun reporter John Fritze contributed to this article.

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