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'It’s heartbreaking,' Baltimore attorney says, recalling two former clients killed in recent spate of violence

Baltimore attorney Ivan Bates once represented Jason Hodge and Andre Haydel.

On Friday, he learned both men were killed in Baltimore’s latest wave of violence.

“It’s heartbreaking. It just hurts,” Bates said. “I’m just trying to not lose hope and believe we can do something positive.”

Hodge, 38, of Pikesville, was working as an electrician and was excited to see his 18-year-old son graduate this year, Bates said. But he died in a shooting shortly after midnight Friday in the 5400 block of Crismer Avenue in Northwest Baltimore.

Haydel, 26, of West Baltimore, had been so proud of his job at a local Au Bon Pain cafe downtown, Bates recalled. More recently, Haydel’s girlfriend said he aspired to be a real estate agent. But around 6 p.m. Thursday, he died in a shooting in the 500 block of Bloom St. in West Baltimore that also injured four others.

The two were among 14 people shot in a 24-hour span, which included three other homicides for a total of five. New acting police Commissioner Michael Harrison said it was his most violent day on the job and called it “totally unacceptable.”

Police have not announced any arrests in the incidents.

The spate of violence caught the attention of the General Assembly in Annapolis Friday morning, where Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller called it an embarrassment to the entire state, and pledged support for the city before the end of the session.

“It’s embarrassing to see headlines like this and it shouldn’t happen,” Miller, a Democrat who represents Prince George’s and Calvert counties, told legislators.

Miller said lawmakers would not make the deep cuts to Gov. Larry Hogan’s proposed crime-fighting plan that were suggested by legislative analysts. Hogan has proposed a $13 million crime package, but the recent analysis recommended cutting about $11 million because the plan lacked details, and wouldn't necessarily drive down crime.

Miller said the funding would help drive down crime in Baltimore.

“Every jurisdiction should have the same effort to make sure that the public is protected. This is the first responsibility,” he said. “If one part of our state hurts, we all hurt.”

Baltimore has struggled to reduce its violence, particularly homicides. The city has recorded more than 300 homicides in each of the past four years, a mark previously not reached since the 1990s.

Harrison is expected to reinvigorate the city’s fight against street violence, while overseeing the implementation of court-mandated policing reforms under a federal consent decree. Many proponents of the consent decree, including the federal judge enforcing it, believe the reforms will improve the department and its relationship with residents, which will help fight crime.

At recent community meetings with Harrison, many residents have expressed more immediate concerns about the violence in their neighborhoods.

Harrison told residents gathered Thursday night in the cafeteria at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute that he wanted to go after the city’s most violent offenders, and use federal partnerships to tackle violence. While progress could take time, Harrison said he’s dedicated to making Baltimore safer.

“I hope to be here a long time,” said Harrison, who led the New Orleans Police Department, also under a consent decree, prior to coming to Baltimore.

Bates criticized the city’s leadership on Friday for not doing enough to curb the violence. Bates, who ran unsuccessfully for city state’s attorney last year, pointed to the recent announcement by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office to not prosecute simple marijuana possession as misplaced priorities.

“We’re sitting here talking about weed. No one is talking about the violence,” he said.

Melba Saunders, a spokeswoman for Mosby’s office, said city prosecutors are looking forward to working with Harrison, who will hopefully provide stability moving forward.

“We’re hopeful that the new police commissioner brings stability within the police department, and our office remains committed to working with him in the implementation of a crime plan that focuses on violent crime,” she said.

The recent shootings occurred across the city, including the quintuple shooting that killed Haydel and wounded four others, ages 19 to 46, in the 500 block of Bloom Street, just south of North Avenue in West Baltimore.

Haydel’s girlfriend, Da'Jah Bushrod, 23, described him as very loving and extremely hardworking. She said the two met outside a neighborhood chicken carryout, had been dating for six years and wanted to start a family soon.

She said Haydel got a new job about three weeks ago with a moving company. He had been taking a roughly hour-long bus ride to get to the job and was saving money to buy a car.

“He was excited. The last message he sent me, he just got off work, and they wanted him to work the next two days,” Bushrod said.

Bushrod said Haydel aspired to go into real estate.

“All he wanted to do was work, and have fun,” she said, recalling trips to Sandy Point State Park, where the couple went swimming last summer. He also loved to dance.

“It’s hard,” she said of his death. “I wish it was all a dream.”

Also killed in the recent spate of violence was 27-year-old Justin Forney, who was shot outside his home in the 5100 block of Charlgrove Road, just south of Pimlico Race Course. No one answered at his Park Heights home Friday morning.

Darius Davenport, a 20-year-old man from Baltimore County, was found fatally shot Thursday morning inside a vehicle in the 1700 block of North Longwood Street in West Baltimore. His family could not be reached for comment.

A 39-year-old man was killed around 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the 6300 block of Tramore Road in Northeast Baltimore. And, on Friday afternoon, another man was killed in a shooting just before 3 p.m. in the area of Park Heights Avenue and Sumter Avenue. Police have not yet identified either man.

Bates said that in previous years, he would know one or two victims of violence through his work as an attorney. But now, it’s between five and 10 each year, he said.

He said Hodge, his other client who was killed Friday, “was working very hard to change his life.”

Hodge worked as an electrician, and was taking additional classes to advance in the field, Bates said.

Bates recalled how he saw Hodge recently at a memorial service for 30-year-old Marquis Richardson, who was killed in a shooting on Christmas Day around the corner from where Hodge was killed early Friday morning.

Bates said many of his clients have legal troubles because they lack opportunities, and are forced to find other ways to support themselves and their families. A majority of the city’s crime victims have criminal histories. Police said 259 of the 309 homicide victims last year had criminal records.

“There’s guys who slip and fall,” he said. “We have to provide opportunity.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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