One man was killed and another wounded in a double shooting yesterday afternoon in Northeast Baltimore, and police disclosed that a man whose body was found floating in the Patapsco River early Monday was a homicide.
Those deaths bring the city's homicide count to 29 this year, an increase of more than 60 percent over the comparable period in 2008 as police struggle to match last year's 20-year low.
At a meeting of criminal justice leaders yesterday, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III noted that while homicides are up, nonfatal shootings are down by nearly 50 percent. That figure is driving an overall decline in the total number of people shot.
"The total is less than where we were last year, even with only 14 murders [in January 2008]," he said.
Police were called to the 1700 block of E. 32nd St. just after noon yesterday for a report of a shooting and found two victims. One man had been shot in the lower back and ran into a nearby home, while a second man was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene. He was identified as Tracy Kinchen, 34, who lived in the block where the shootings occurred.
Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman, said that the victims were in an alley when they were approached on foot by one or more gunmen who opened fire and fled north toward Tivoly Avenue. Moses said police knew of no suspects or motive.
The killing is the third this year in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello community, which was among Baltimore's deadliest neighborhoods in 2008 with eight homicides.
Mark Washington, executive director of the area's community association, said disputes between rival gangs may have sparked some of the violence in recent months. But he said police and other agencies are pouring resources into the area and should not shoulder the blame.
"Unfortunately, we have not done, as a community, an effective enough job of carrying the message to some of the younger individuals in our neighborhood that may be looking at this [criminal] lifestyle as a viable option," Washington said.
Authorities also yesterday identified the man whose body was pulled from the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River Monday as Eric Pendergrass, 26, of the 3400 block of Avondale Ave. It remained unclear how his body ended up in the water. Police said he was killed by asphyxiation.
Pendergrass was awaiting trial on drug and gun charges, and court records indicate he was on probation through November of this year.