Baltimore police name suspect in fatal stabbing of 73-year-old man latest 'Public Enemy No. 1'

Baltimore's latest Public Enemy No. 1 is suspect in 73-year-old man's killing

Baltimore police named the teenager wanted in the fatal stabbing of a 73-year-old man in Southeast Baltimore last week the city's latest "Public Enemy No. 1."

Christopher Straham, 19, faces charges including first-degree murder in the attack Friday afternoon near Pulaski Highway and Highland Avenue, police said Monday.

Straham was identified by a community tip after police released surveillance video of the attack, police said. Police have not released the name of the victim, who they believe was homeless, pending notification of his family.

In the video, the victim struggles to defend himself with his cane as the attacker pulls an object from a pocket and repeatedly thrusts it at him. The victim later died of his injuries, which included multiple stab wounds.

Police spokesman T.J. Smith said police believe the two men had some sort of interaction in a nearby fast-food restaurant before the attack and robbery, and that Straham might have seen that the older man had cash on him.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said Straham is "on the run" and asked for the community's help in getting him off the street.

"We never delight in announcing Public Enemy No. 1 in Baltimore. We do it when we have to do it," Davis said. "We do it when the crime committed is so egregious that it shocks the conscience of our community, and/or when a victim is particularly vulnerable, like this 73-year-old homeless man."

Straham faces charges of first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, armed robbery, robbery, theft and possession of a dangerous weapon with the intent to injure.

Davis said Straham has a tattoo of his initials, CS, under his right eye and a tattoo of a heart under his left eye.

Police asked anyone with information to call homicide detectives at 410-396-2100 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCK-UP.

Online court records show that Straham was arrested in July on charges of second-degree assault, carrying a switchblade, concealing a dangerous weapon and possessing a dangerous weapon with the intent to injure.

In that case, Straham allegedly asked a woman in a wheelchair at a Southeastern Baltimore bus stop for a cigarette and then pulled a knife on her.

Two witnesses, one who stepped in and waved Straham away using an umbrella, corroborated the victim's account, authorities said in court documents.

"You don't know me — I'll cut your throat," Straham allegedly told the woman, authorities said.

The knife, which police described as a spring-assisted switchblade, came within inches of the victim's throat, the witnesses and the victim said.

Straham was later released on his own recognizance but failed to report to two meetings with pretrial supervision officials; he also failed to show up for a court date, according to court records.

He was apprehended again, and was released in September. All of the charges against him were dropped by prosecutors last month.

Rochelle Ritchie, a spokeswoman for Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, said the charges were dropped because the victim and witnesses failed to show up for court.

Davis said he didn't have details on why the previous charges were dropped.

"Anytime the criminal justice system — and the Police Department is part of the criminal justice system — doesn't work as well as it should, it's a source of frustration to us and the community."

Davis said Straham is "without a conscience," will commit violence again, and needs to be arrested as soon as possible.

krector@baltsun.com

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