Just a few minutes into the year, a 28-year-old South Baltimore man was shot several times after refusing to obey orders from a gunman robbing partygoers at a Cherry Hill apartment, possibly becoming the city's first homicide victim in 2008, police said.
The slaying marked the sixth consecutive year in which a homicide was tallied on Jan. 1 in Baltimore, according to computer records; it also ended a three-day period in which no killings occurred in the city.
Baltimore has been grappling with a homicide rate that ranks among the highest in the United States. The city recorded 282 homicides last year, up from 276 for 2006.
In yesterday's incident, the assailant stormed into the apartment in the 800 block of Bethune Road shortly after midnight and ordered several people to the floor at gunpoint, demanding money and other personal items, said Agent Donny Moses, a city police spokesman.
After a few people obeyed the gunman's demands, the South Baltimore man refused, Moses said, prompting an argument that ended with the victim being shot several times in the chest.
The gunman, who was wearing an all-black outfit, fled on foot, Moses said.
The victim was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was pronounced dead before 1 a.m. His name was not released, pending notification of his family.
No one else was hurt in the incident, Moses said, and investigators said they have been unable to identify the gunman.
The city's previous homicide -- the last of 2007 -- was recorded Dec. 28, when a 25-year-old man died of gunshot wounds. He was found about 12:30 p.m. outside a supermarket in the 900 block of North Caroline St.
As of last night, it was unclear how the death of a Maryland Transportation Authority Police officer in a hit-and-run would be classified. Officer Courtney G. Brooks was hit about 11:20 p.m. Monday at Interstates 95 and 395 in Baltimore and pronounced dead at 12:29 a.m. yesterday at Shock Trauma.
The last time Baltimore got through New Year's Day without a homicide was 2002, based on a computer database search. In previous years:
A 17-year-old boy died on New Year's Day last year after being shot at a Chinese carryout on Clifton Avenue. He was one of three people wounded by a gunman at about 6:30 p.m. Police found two bodies the next day in West Baltimore.
In 2006, a 21-year-old woman was shot while trying to break up a fight at a New Year's party at her home less than two hours into the new year. That marked the first of four homicides that occurred on that Jan. 1.
In 2005, a month-old Northwest Baltimore infant boy was pronounced dead on Jan. 1 from an apparent beating in the 4800 block of Liberty Heights Ave. And a man and a woman were found dead the next day in a North Baltimore rowhouse.
In 2004, a 30-year-old man was pronounced dead about 1:30 a.m. Jan. 1 after he was shot at a convenience store several hours earlier in West Baltimore. By 2 a.m., police had found a driver who had been shot several times slumped over the steering wheel of a 2004 Ford Excursion in the 4100 block of Woodhaven Ave.
In 2003, a man and woman were found fatally shot about 1:45 a.m. on an East Baltimore street just south of Clifton Park. Through Jan. 5, eight homicides in the city were recorded.