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With months to go, 2015 now more deadly in Baltimore than all of last year

Baltimore surpasses the number of murders for all of last year, with more than four months to go. The dubious distinction comes as the mayor faces growing public criticism. Mike Hellgren reports.

Two more men were killed — one Wednesday evening and the other Thursday afternoon — as Baltimore's homicide count for 2015 pushed past last year's toll.

The latest killing happened on a mostly vacant West Baltimore street about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, where police officers found a man shot multiple times.

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An ambulance responded, but it was not needed: the man was pronounced dead at the scene, and detectives covered the body with a sheet as they searched the area for clues.

It was the city's 213th homicide this year, which exceeds last year's total of 211.

"Ever since that riot, everything has gone downhill," said Wesley Wilson, 48, as he looked on at the crime scene. He passes through the area every day to visit his neighborhood bar, he said, adding that it is typically a quiet area.

City crime has surged since the April riots that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who sustained a spinal injury while in police custody.

On Wednesday night, police found a man suffering from a gunshot wound in the 500 block of S. Catherine St. He was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m., police said Thursday. The man was 28 years old, police said, but he has not been identified.

The spate of killings is driving Baltimore back to 1990s levels of violence, when there were 300 or more homicide victims each year.

As of Wednesday, Baltimore had more homicides for the year than New York City, despite the huge difference in population. Baltimore, with about 620,000 residents, had 212 killings, while New York City, with a population of more than 8.4 million, had 208, according to a New York police spokeswoman.

Such a swing would not have seemed possible in the 1990s, when New York peaked at 2,245 homicides in 1990 and Baltimore reached 353 in 1993.

Baltimore police have recently partnered with federal agents, embedding them with the homicide unit in hopes of using creative strategies to solve cases. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pointed this week to an increase in arrests and gun and drug seizures as signs of positive momentum.

Also Thursday, a 20-year-old man was shot in the head in the Remington neighborhood and critically wounded. Police said he was standing in the 2700 block of Huntingdon Ave. when he got into an argument with another man, who shot him in the "extreme upper body" and fled westbound on West 27th Street.

Residents said they have repeatedly complained to police about an increase in drug dealing in the area.

Officers also went to two hospitals shortly before midnight Wednesday to investigate a man and a woman who had been shot. The incident took place in the 2100 block of Frederick St., police said.

About 30 minutes later, officers went to the 2700 block of Pennsylvania Ave. to investigate another shooting, police said. A man was taken to the hospital suffering a gunshot wound and is expected to survive, police said.

Just before 2 a.m. Thursday, officers were at Mercy Medical Center to investigate a shooting. A man had a wound that was not life-threatening. and detectives with the Central District were trying to determine where the shooting took place.

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Also Thursday, police confirmed that for the second time in less than a month, a handgun was found inside a holding cell in the Eastern District station. Spokesman T.J. Smith said the circumstances were being examined.

When the same thing happened in late July, city officials expressed shock and frustration that a gun could be smuggled into a such a secure area.

Earlier this year, a man brought a gun into the Northeastern District station in what he said was a security test for the Black Guerrilla Family gang, and in August 2014, police say a man who had been taken into custody fatally shot himself with a gun he had smuggled in.

Baltimore Sun reporter Ian Duncan contributed to this article.

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