Three quadruple shootings in three days, a triple shooting near an elementary school and 21 people struck by gunfire since Thursday marred Baltimore’s long Labor Day weekend and brought a violent summer to a close.
In all, 126 people were shot across the city in August, 31 of them fatally. That follows the 38 people killed in July, and brings the total number of people killed from Memorial Day to Labor Day to 108, according to a Baltimore Sun database of killings and information provided by police.
The rise in homicides and shootings in the city coincides with a sharp increase in the number of incidents with more than one victim. Police spokesman Det. Donny Moses said there have been 62 shooting incidents this year in which there was a homicide and a surviving victim, compared with 25 such incidents for all of last year.
He did not provide data on shootings in which there were multiple deaths but no surviving victims.
The number of young victims of gunfire is also rising. Of those victims shot in the most recent run of quadruple shootings, five were under the age of 18, according to police.
Thirteen homicide victims so far this year were under the age of 18, including 10 teenagers shot to death, according to a Sun analysis of police data. There were 15 youth victims last year, 12 of whom were killed in shootings, including 7-year-old Taylor Hayes.
Records show that police are having little luck tracking the killers down. The department’s homicide clearance rate for the year is 24 percent, compared with 28 percent for all homicides committed last year and cleared during the same calendar year, according to Moses and data released by police.
A separate statistic, covering homicides that are solved in the next year or later, is also in decline. The cumulative clearance rate — all homicides solved in a year, including killings that occurred in previous years — is down to 38 percent compared with 51.5 percent last year.
Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer, who took over as the as chairman of the council’s public safety committee in June, called the recent spate of violence “outrageous.”
He expressed confidence in Commissioner Michael Harrison’s new crime plan that uses research, analysis and data to determine deployment decisions and other efforts to combat crime. But he said stemming the violence won’t happen overnight.
“This is many decades of decline to get to the point where we are,” Schleifer said. “It is going to take some time to turn around the city and curb the violence.”
Events of recent days are illustrative of both the dangers posed to young people on the streets and the increase in multiple-victim shootings.
The final minutes of August brought police to the 900 block of North Monroe St. around 11:35 p.m. Saturday where they found four males suffering from gunshot wounds. The victims — ages 23, 19, 17 and 15 — were transported to area hospitals, police said. Three were shot in the legs and one in the chest.
On Friday, one person was killed and three others injured in a shooting in a Northeast Baltimore home, police said.
And early Thursday, four people were shot in the 2500 block of E. Monument Street just before 12:30 a.m. A 16 year-old boy, later identified as Milton Carrington died at the hospital. A 14-year-old and 15-year-old boy, and a 33 year-old woman, who a friend of Carrington’s identified as his mother, were injured but expected to survive.
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Milton was known as a “big-hearted kid” who liked to ride the new electric scooters, his friend Melo Arzu, 20, said.
“He was loyal no matter what,” Arzu said. “He would do anything for his mother. He was funny. He was caring. He was energetic. Most kids don’t want to hear nothing from a grown person, but he was very open-minded. I’m really, really heartbroken.”
Mukhtar Taha, president of the Midtown-Edmondson Homeowner’s Association, said he believes police must make more of an effort to engage with the community to curb the violence.
He lives just four blocks from the North Monroe Street quadruple shooting scene and said he regularly sees drug dealing on the street.
Police officers must do more than just come to the community meetings, Taha said. They should “come out and talk to us,” he said, as opposed to spending what he calls too much time in their vehicles. “They’re just sitting there, they don’t get out,” he said.
Taha, 66, also blamed young people who appear to have no regard for human life.
“They are killing each other for nothing,” he said.