Raid continues police targeting of violent West Baltimore neighborhood where 15-year-old boy was killed

Police this week raided the West Baltimore home of an alleged Crip gang member as part of a broader effort to stem violence in the neighborhood where a 15-year-old boy was fatally shot last month, according to police and court records.

During the raid in the 1000 block of Myrtle Ave., in the city's Heritage Crossing neighborhood, officers recovered two handguns, one of which had been stolen in Towson; several kinds of ammunition; varying amounts of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, codeine and the prescription painkiller Tramadol; and materials for cooking, cutting and packaging the drugs, according to court records.


In an Elmo backpack, they found some of the fentanyl, a dangerous opioid more than 50 times as powerful as heroin, and an illegal gun magazine capable of holding up to 30 rounds, according to the records. Additional rounds were found inside of a child's shoe, the records said.

A 15-year-old boy was fatally shot amid a hail of bullets on a West Baltimore street Tuesday afternoon. He was the third teenager killed this month, and the 227th homicide victim of the year.

The target of the raid was the home's owner, Damien Cook, 26, who police allege is a Crip gang member. Various items associated with the gang — and the local "52 Hoover Gangster Crip" set specifically — were found in the home, including an orange and blue belt and a pin that both had writing affiliated with the set, according to the court records.


Cook, who police said was prohibited from possessing a firearm because of a prior conviction, was charged with five gun-related offenses and 13 drug-related offenses, according to court records.

Cook was ordered held without bail. He could not be reached for comment and did not have an attorney listed.

Cook was found guilty of a handgun charge in 2010, according to online court records.

Also arrested in the raid was Byron Harris, 37, of the 600 block of George St., also in Heritage Crossing. Harris was charged with two counts of drug possession and released on his own recognizance Thursday, according to online court records. He could not be reached for comment, and did not have an attorney listed.

Police said the raid, which was conducted Wednesday by the new Western District Action Team, was spurred on by violence in and around the nearby 900 block of Bennett Place where it intersects with North Fremont Avenue, in the city's Harlem Park neighborhood.

That location, a few blocks from Cook's house, has been a hot spot for violence.

Eleven people have been shot or killed there since 2013, when officers barricaded the block to regain control, according to city records. In December, three people were killed there in a single incident. On July 18, two people were shot there, one fatally.

A 15-year-old boy is in “grave” condition after being shot in the forehead during a robbery in West Baltimore early Tuesday morning, according to Baltimore Police.

Jeffrey Quick, 15, was fatally shot on N. Fremont Avenue, right at the corner with Bennett Place, on Aug. 22. Family members, who live nearby as well, have declined to comment on his killing.

Quick was the second 15-year-old boy killed in Harlem Park last month. The first was Tyrese Davis.

Police have called the violence unacceptable, and have taken multiple steps to address it.

The raid followed a community clean-up on the block last week, where Maj. Sheree Briscoe, the commander of the Western District, hinted that more police work targeting the area was coming. The cleanup followed a special warrant initiative that led to 20 arrests in the area the previous week.

According to a statement of probable cause filed in the case against Cook, police set up "pre-raid surveillance" outside Cook's home about 11 a.m. on Wednesday. About 12:35 p.m., officers saw Cook and Harris come out of the home and detained them in a black Honda Accord parked outside, where they found suspected codeine and Tramadol, according to the statement.


Inside, officers found a Glock 17 registered to Cook's brother in an upstairs bedroom. In the basement, they found a Smith and Wesson .357 revolver, reported stolen in Towson in 2013, in the mattress of a pull-out couch, as well as the various kinds of illicit drugs in different hiding places.

While being recorded by an officer's body camera, Cook stated that the revolver and "everything in the basement" belonged to him, police said in the court file.

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