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Crime

Baltimore County Police precinct commander addresses shocking Middle River shooting, predicts at least one victim will be charged

A Baltimore County Police precinct commander vowed to residents gathered Thursday night that the agency would “get to the bottom” of Tuesday’s double shooting with an automatic weapon that shocked the Middle River community.

At least one of the two people wounded is expected to face criminal charges, Essex Precinct Capt. Eliot Latchaw said. He said the male shooting victim was involved in “illegal drug activities” and predicted there will be “numerous” charges.

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“Am I happy that this incident happened in our backyard? No, I’m not,” Latchaw told roughly 100 attendees of a town hall called in response to the shooting. “But I’m confident that we’ll get to the bottom of it. And I’m confident that the community at large, as a whole, day in and day out, is relatively safe.”

A video of the Tuesday morning drive-by shooting, which was verified by police, captured the automatic gunfire at a busy intersection not long after 10 a.m. The footage showed an SUV crashed into a telephone pole, and a barrage of rapid shots could be heard coming from another vehicle at the intersection of Compass Road and Martin Boulevard in Middle River.

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Police have said two people, a 43-year-old man and a 42-year-old woman, were wounded and taken to the hospital.

Concern about the violence captured in the video prompted state Del. Ric Metzgar, a Republican who represents the area, to host Thursday night’s town hall meeting, where Latchaw provided an update on the active investigation.

Detectives have not yet identified a suspect, he said, but are confident it was a targeted shooting.

The two people shot were not local residents but were in the area to go to Essex District Court, Latchaw said.

Police previously said the shooting involved an automatic weapon, based on cellphone video provided to detectives. Latchaw said the weapon has not yet been recovered.

Metzgar said the town hall was intended to “calm the nerves” of residents and provide information following the shooting.

Attendees used the meeting as an opportunity to ask Latchaw and elected officials in attendance how they could help police and how to follow the case, along with specific questions about local concerns.

One person asked: If police know the victims were targeted, who was targeting them?

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“They may know, but we don’t yet,” Latchaw said. “Unfortunately, in the world of crime and drug sales, a lot of this violence is created. That’s no secret.”

Despite Tuesday’s double shooting, the Essex precinct has seen a decline year-over-year in shootings, according to statistics Latchaw provided.

The area has seen two homicides and two nonfatal shootings so far in 2022, compared with nine nonfatal shootings and five homicides in the same period last year, he said.

Police have taken 122 firearms off the street so far this year in the district, he said, the equivalent of one gun every 1.7 days.

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Some residents said after the meeting that they appreciated the statistics Latchaw shared.

Jim Howell, the pastor of Victory Villa Baptist Church, where the town hall was held, said it was good to “know the facts.”

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“He really put you at ease,” Howell said. “I wasn’t that rattled because of this last incident, but overall, it seems like there’s a whole lot more crime and more problems going on around here than used to be, but by putting out the statistics, he kind of calmed your nerves a little.”

Nichoel Hill, a Middle River resident, who lives near where Tuesday’s shooting took place, called it a “shock.”

“It’s close to home. ... My kid could’ve been out there, playing in the backyard,” Hill said.

She said the town hall, the first she’d ever attended, made her feel a little better, but it also showed that more needs to be done, such as additional police presence in her neighborhood.

“They said they’re trying their best and doing what they can,” Hill said.


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