Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Baltimore crime still trending below last year, though declines narrowed in second quarter

Violent crime in Baltimore in 2018 is still trending below the historic levels seen last year, but the declines have narrowed in the second quarter, according to city data.

For instance, while non-fatal shootings were down 23 percent toward the end of the first quarter in late March, they were down just 6 percent as of June 16, according to the most recent crime data.

Homicides, which were down 27 percent compared to 2017 toward the end of March, were down 20 percent through June 16. Since then, there has been more than a killing a day in the city.

The 20 percent year-over-year reduction in Baltimore killings, along with declines seen in Chicago, is helping drive down rates of violence at the national level through the first half of 2018. And in Baltimore, shootings and homicides are far from the only categories of crime that have seen decreases since last year.

Through June 16, robbery was down 16 percent, aggravated assault was down 12 percent and burglary was down 29 percent. At the end of the first quarter, robbery was down about 18 percent, aggravated assaults by 24 percent and burglaries by 27 percent.

Crimes that have seen increases this year include gas station robberies, which were up 42 percent through June 16, and bank robberies, which were up 217 percent — with 19 such incidents so far this year compared to six during the same period last year.

Some areas of the city that have seen big declines in homicides have seen large increases in non-fatal shootings. Others have seen big declines in both categories. None has seen an increase in both categories.

In 2017, there was a per capita-record 342 homicides in Baltimore — a massive number, particularly for a city of fewer than 650,000 residents. Despite the 20 percent year-over-year decline in killings so far this year, the city’s murder rate remains one of the highest in the nation.

Gun violence routinely fluctuates on a monthly basis, and most homicides in Baltimore are the result of bullet wounds. Part of the city’s year-over-year decline in killings is due to the fact that, last month, there were 20 homicides, compared to 38 in May 2017. But this month, the city is on pace for a killing a day, compared to 24 last June, which could cut into that progress.

For the five years from 2013 to 2017, there were an average 124 homicides through June 21, according to an analysis by The Baltimore Sun. That’s compared to 135 homicides through June 21 this year.

The reason this year’s total through June 21 is higher than the average of the last five years is largely because there were so many fewer homicides before the summer in 2013 and 2014 — 102 and 93, respectively.

City violence rose dramatically after the unrest in April 2015, following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray from injuries suffered in police custody.

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