Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison sought to reassure residents at the end of a holiday weekend that left nine dead and five others injured, even as city residents remain ordered to stay at home because of the coronavirus.
In a news conference Monday afternoon, Harrison called the level of violence “incomprehensible and unconscionable,” but noted two of the shootings had occurred inside residences, suggesting that the victims knew the perpetrators.
“These are not random. We know for a fact that these are not random,” Harrison said of the incidents while speaking at the department’s Northern District. In several instances, victims had been carrying handguns; a few of the dead had been previously convicted of crimes like attempted murder. “Some of this was retaliatory violence," he said.
Eight people had been killed at the time of the conference; hours later, another man was fatally shot in Ashburton.
With businesses closed by the coronavirus and residents ordered inside, property crime is down by nearly 25% in the city, The Baltimore Sun reported Sunday. Gun violence in Baltimore remains down slightly from last year’s highs. Last year saw 263 shootings by May 25, in contrast with 217 as of Monday, according to data provided by police. As of May 25 last year, 119 people had been killed in the city, compared with 118 so far this year.
Memorial Day weekend has often been a time of violence in Baltimore. Several years have seen mass shootings, such as in 2016, when five people were shot during a cookout outside a North Baltimore home. In 2000, nearly a dozen people were injured and one person was killed when two gunmen began shooting into a crowd of mourners honoring a slain gang member.