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Baltimore reaches 200 homicide mark for 2017

A young man lay dead under a white sheet on Greenmount Avenue Wednesday afternoon, his sneakers poking out as police took pictures of the crime scene and logged the shell casings that surrounded him.

The stark scene, a fatal shooting committed in broad daylight in a violent corridor, pushed Baltimore to 200 homicides for the year.

A large crowd formed in the 1200 block of Greenmount Ave. after the shooting happened around 4 p.m. Word spread that a man who was often out selling water bottles and soda had been killed. The victim, who police said was 23, has not yet been publicly identified.

A female victim also was struck by gunfire, according to police, and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

The man’s relatives arrived at the scene, screaming, with tears running down their faces. One man, after having seen the body, whirled around and broke through a line of crime scene tape.

“You see how my brother is?” he said as he paced down the street, screaming.

A young woman with a baseball cap jumped up and down on the sidewalk, saying it was her brother who had been killed.

“I’m so mad, I’m so mad,” she repeated.

One woman, who would only give her last name of Johnson out of fear of retaliation, said the victim recently helped an elderly woman from the nearby Lillian Jones apartments who had fallen out of her wheelchair. He and other young men selling water called paramedics for her, she said.

“Greenmount has enough problems without this happening,” she said.

The area where the shooting happened has been marked by serious crimes in recent years. In March, a firebombing in a home in the same block killed two teens and injured six others. Eight people were shot in a single incident on the nearby corner of Greenmount Avenue and East Preston Street last September.

The 200-homicide mark was reached far earlier this year than in previous years. Last year, Baltimore hit 200 homicides on Sept. 2. The year before, it reached 200 on Aug. 10. In prior years it reached the milestone in the winter. In 2011, there were fewer than 200 homicides for the year.

Wednesday’s homicide on Greenmount was also the 30th in the month of July, the third time this year there have been 30 or more homicides in a month.

As of July 25, the Baltimore police homicide clearance rate was 57 percent.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this report.

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