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Baltimore church pays tribute to the year's 307 homicide victims

The Rev. Canon Scott Slater leads a prayer walk inside the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood Monday on New Year's Eve. The walk was to commemorate the more than 300 homicide victims in Baltimore in 2018. (Christina Tkacik, Baltimore Sun video)

It took about an hour to read them all. The 307 names filled two and a half typed pages, with nine of them — the most recent additions — handwritten on the back.

On Monday afternoon, the Rev. Canon Scott Slater led a small group in slow circles around the nave of a church, reading the names of Baltimore's homicide victims for 2018.

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They began with Andre Galloway, a 16-year-old boy killed on New Year's Day 2018.

"Rest eternal grant to Andre, O Lord," Slater said, walking past the wooden pews of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, which smelled of greens hung for Christmas.

"And let light perpetual shine upon him," came the response.

Certain names popped out at church deacon Lauren Welch without her even knowing why.

"I almost wanted to cry," she said.

The victims' ages ranged from 5 months — the baby Brailynn Ford, killed in October — to 83-year-old Dorothy Mae Neal, who was found dead inside her West Baltimore apartment in August and remembered by neighbors as independent and soft-spoken.

There was at least one couple: Sean and Mykia Dyer, fatally shot while together on Division Street in January. Seven-year-old Taylor Hayes, who was shot while riding in the back seat of a car in July, loved to sing and dance. Mousa Mohammad Jaber, who was killed in December, ran a convenience store and didn't hold a grudge. Timothy Moriconi had spoken out about robberies before he was fatally shot in September in South Baltimore.

Most of the homicide victims were men. There was Dwayne Cheeks, 38, who was killed in June, and whose mother has since passed out photos with her son's smiling face in hopes of getting answers about what happened to him.

The number of killings is down about 10 percent from last year's total of 342, which set the record for the most people killed per capita and earned Baltimore the dubious distinction of deadliest big city in the United States. More than 300 people have been killed in Baltimore in each of the past four years.

Several names were listed as unknown. "That baffles me," Slater said. "These people were known to someone. Someone had to know them."

A 59-year-old man was fatally shot outside a Baltimore public housing apartment complex on New Year’s Eve morning, police said, in the 307th homicide in the city this year.

Among them was a 59-year-old man who police said was fatally shot Monday morning outside a Baltimore public housing complex about a mile from the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

He was the 307th homicide victim of the year. Police have not yet released his name.

Detectives were called about 10:20 a.m. to the shooting outside the J. Van Story Branch Sr. Apartments, a 357-unit, 20-story building in the first block of W. 20th St. in Old Goucher, police said.

On Monday, the taped-off crime scene stretched the entire length of the block, stranding a group of people who live in the apartments outside for more than an hour.

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Markita Wiggins, who has lived in the Branch Apartments nearly four years, arrived home with bags from a shopping trip to Family Dollar, but couldn't get inside the building.

"Since I've been living here ain't been nothing but drama and trouble," said Wiggins, 31. "I'm sick and tired of it. I can't live here, be peaceful."

Another man, who said he lived in the building but declined to give his name, complained about the inconvenience of the crime scene and said he has no confidence police will arrest the killer.

The Police Department has made arrests in 46 percent of this year's killings.

"They [won't] lock anybody up," he said. "They never do. This [expletive] happened about three or four times since last summer."

Anyone with information about the killing is asked to call either the homicide unit at 410-396-2100 or leave an anonymous tip at Metro Crime Stoppers 1-866-7LOCKUP.

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