Baltimore has surpassed 300 homicides for the seventh straight year, and police say they have identified a “person of interest” in the killing of a 69-year-old woman at an East Baltimore church Tuesday and are working to find out who killed a 5-year-old girl one day earlier.
The city’s grim count reached 301 shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday when Eastern District officers found a 40-year-old suffering from gunshot wounds in the 2100 block of Aikens St. The man, who was not identified, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The shooting continues a particularly difficult stretch for a city long suffering with violence.
On Wednesday, Baltimore Police announced that they were calling the death of Nivea Anderson, 5, a homicide after she was found unresponsive Monday night at a home in the 2800 block of Pelham Avenue, in the Belair-Edison neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore. Officers and medical personnel were unable to revive her, and a police news release said there was evidence the little girl had suffered previous abuse.
It’s the second death that has shocked a city in less than a week, after 69-year-old Evelyn Player was found slain Tuesday inside the Southern Baptist Church on North Chester Street, where she was a member, and also worked part time as a janitor.
Police have not charged anyone but police spokeswoman Det. Chakia Fennoy said “we have a person of interest being sought in the case.” She declined to provide details about a possible motive.
Fennoy said she could not provide additional details of the investigation into Nivea’s death, including any possible persons of interest or arrests.
In a statement, Mayor Brandon Scott said he was “outraged that Baltimore recorded its 300th homicide” and added that the city “cannot continue to be desensitized” by the violence. “Far too many interpersonal conflicts and domestic disputes are escalating into fatal violence. Failing to recognize the value of human life cannot continue to be the norm in Baltimore.”
On Thursday no one answered the door at the home where Nivea Anderson was found days earlier. A neighbor passing by said she had seen several children at the home but did not know the family. She said she had read about the girl’s death online.
“It’s horrible,” she said.
The home had a toddler’s ride-on toy on the porch, and yellow animated “Minions’ movie characters posted in the front window.
Police said that the girl “had bruising on her face from prior abuse.”
There were 335 killings last year and 348 in 2019. The city’s deadliest year was in 1993 when 353 people were killed, although the 348 homicides in 2019 made it Baltimore’s deadliest, on a per capita basis.
Until 2015, the city had not experienced more than 300 homicides a year since the 1990s when there were regularly more than 300 killings but the population was higher. Since 2015, the city has had five different police commissioners and four mayors, and undergone a federal consent decree that mandates sweeping police reforms to protect residents’ constitutional rights.
Some critics have blamed the unabated violence on the consent decree, saying it has cuffed the police, while others have blamed State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for enacting a policy not to prosecute certain low-level crimes in the city.
Scott pointed to reformation of the Baltimore Criminal Justice Coordinating Council — a group of city, state and federal law enforcement agency leaders who aid the city with its approach to public safety — as well as the regular PoliceStat meetings held with department leaders as examples of his administration’s overall approach. Scott wrote that “this will no longer be about police alone, but they certainly have an important role to play.”
Police responded to two other nonfatal shootings Thursday.
Just after 1 p.m., officers were called to the 1200 block of Druid Hill Ave. where they found a man who had been shot. Police said the man was taken to a local hospital and listed in critical condition, but due to his injuries, homicide detectives were notified.
Just two minutes earlier, officers were called to the 2700 block of Walbrook Ave., where they found a 29-year-old man, who was taken to the hospital, and is expected to survive. Police said the suspect was shot in the nearby 2100 block of Braddish Ave.
Two other men were shot Wednesday. Police said a man was found shot in the chest “area” in the city’s Langston Hughes neighborhood in Northwest Baltimore around 2:51 p.m. Officers discovered the man while responding to a report of a shooting in the 5000 block of Litchfield Ave.
The man was conscious but being “uncooperative with officers” before he was taken to an area hospital for surgery, where his condition was not known as of Wednesday evening, police said.
A 25-year-old man is in serious condition at a hospital after police say he was found shot in the city’s Madison-Eastend neighborhood Wednesday night.
Police say officers discovered the man while responding to a report of a shooting in the area of Ashland and Kenwood avenues in East Baltimore for a report of a shooting at around 9:08 p.m.
The man was taken to the hospital and is in serious condition, police said.
Anyone with information on the homicides is asked to call detectives at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7Lockup.