The screenwriters from "The Wire" could not have scripted the welcome I received upon arrival in Baltimore on Sunday. Just 15 minutes after stepping off the train at Penn Station, I was standing behind yellow crime-scene tape after a shooting in the 400 block of N. Milton Avenue.
The male victim had been shot in the stomach but survived. The police officers who responded to the call said there was no suspect, motive or weapon.
We were the only reporters at the scene. When we arrived the street was cordoned off and officers were in the process of looking for the gun, searching under car wheel wells and other possible hiding places. But their search was fruitless. And they appeared to know it.
One of the cops joked with another that he would take him and the rest of his team to a restaurant of their choosing if they found the weapon that night. There was a catch, though. The detective made it clear that the officer needed to find the gun used in the shooting, not just a gun.
While it is hard to deny that the city has a problem with gun crime, I am told that Sunday night's incident, which took place in the McElderry Park neighborhood, was the first in that neighborhood in more than a month. The last fatal shooting there was on May 30, when 35-year-old Douglas Winston was killed.
The lack of recent gunfire in the area could be due to the fact that the police have mounted an increased presence in recent weeks. The community also seems to be keen to address the problems. On the corner of the block where Sunday's shooting took place was a sign which showed the chalk outline of a dead body and the slogan "Enough is Enough."
Mark Hughes, a crime reporter with The Independent, a national newspaper in the United Kingdom, is visiting Baltimore to see if the city's police officers, drug dealers, prosecutors and politicians bear any resemblance to those on "The Wire," which recently aired in Great Britain. The Sun will complete an exchange by sending police reporter Justin Fenton to London to compare crime trends. More observations from Fenton and Hughes are available at baltimoresun.com/twocities.