Timothy Smith was shaving the gray stubble from his face Monday afternoon when he heard the gunshots. He dropped the razor and sprinted downstairs and out the door.
The 48-year-old said he'd been inside his Northeast Baltimore home only a moment to get ready for work, temporarily leaving three of his grandchildren riding their bikes in the street outside. His worst fears were assuaged — the pre-teens were OK — but in an alley nearby lay a man, shot to death in Baltimore's 200th homicide this year.
"I was hysterical," Smith said.
The city didn't hit 200 homicides last year until Dec. 7, when police said 19-year-old Tymaine Sellman was gunned down in the 500 block of Edgewood St.
A wave of killings the likes of which hasn't been seen in four decades followed the unrest over the death of Freddie Gray, with more than 40 people killed in both May and July. So far in August, about one person has been killed per day in Baltimore. Police have partially blamed the influx of prescription drugs stolen from looted pharmacies for the violence.
Police have announced several initiatives to curb the violence, including a War Room in which city detectives work with state and federal agencies to solve crimes and an embedding of 10 federal agents with city homicide detectives.
Police did not identify the victim in the killing Monday in the 2700 block of the Alameda, near Clifton Park in Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello. The man was declared dead at the scene, police said, and officers set up a temporary partition around his body in the alley as they investigated.
It was the second shooting death announced Monday. In the other, a man shot Sunday at Navarro and Groveland avenues in the West Arlington neighborhood later died, police said. The department initially reported that shooting shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, but further details were not immediately available Monday.
Three other people were injured in two shootings early Monday morning. At about 12:35 a.m., officers found a 29-year-old man shot multiple times and a 19-year-old woman shot in the abdomen on the 1300 block of N. Carey St. in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, police said.
At 3:40 a.m., officers responded to the 500 block of N. Bouldin St. in the Ellwood Park/Monument neighborhood, where a 24-year-old man was found shot in his abdomen.
The victims were taken to area hospitals for their injuries, police said.
Smith said five generations of his family live in Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello, and he's never seen such violence in the neighborhood.
"They're not allowed to ride out here no more," he said, regarding his grandchildren. "I've never known the Alameda to be like this. We used to play football right here."
But Mark Washington, of the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello Neighborhood Association said the community is transitioning and had just celebrated National Night Out with a week of block parties.
"It's seen its fair share of hard times in the past," he said. "But I think this is more reflective of the conversation we as African-Americans need to have in our community of how we value life and what black lives mean to us."
"It puts a damper on [the neighborhood's progress], but it's not a setback," he added. "It's more of a call to arms and it reinforces that we need to do more."