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

10-day lull of killings in Baltimore comes to abrupt end as multiple shootings leave five dead

and Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

A 10-day lull in Baltimore killings ended this week as a string of shootings — a single, two doubles, a triple and a quadruple — starting Tuesday and stretching into Thursday night left five dead and seven injured.

“It don’t make no sense — this person killing that person,” said 58-year-old William Battle as he walked by a street near Druid Hill Park littered with orange evidence markers.

Four men were shot around 11:15 a.m. Thursday in the 2800 block of Parkwood Ave., police said. Investigators found three shooting victims in the area: a man who had been shot in the stomach, a 27-year-old man who was shot in the shoulder and a 39-year-old man who was shot in the leg. The man who was shot in the stomach died of his injuries, and a fourth shooting victim later arrived at an area hospital with graze wounds, police said.

One of the city’s gunfire detection systems — which use acoustic sensors to help alert police to shootings — registered 31 gunshots near the scene.

When Battle heard shots, he said, he ducked into a nearby store to wait out the gunfire.

“I walk lightly,” Battle said, with a peace symbol medallion hanging from his neck. “I just stay in my world.”

The quadruple shooting came less than a day after a triple-shooting Wednesday night left two people dead in East Baltimore. Minutes before that, police found a man fatally shot in Southwest Baltimore.

And on Tuesday, police say two people were shot in East Baltimore. One victim, 42-year-old Lakesha Clark, later died from her injuries.

By Thursday night, the number of injured rose to seven people after police reported two men were shot in the 2800 block of Pelham Ave. around 7:14 p.m.

In a news release, police wrote that a 25-year-old man was taken to the hospital to be treated for multiple gunshot wounds and a 30-year-old man, who was responsive and spoke with police at the scene, was also shot on Pelham.

This week’s violence interrupted a rare peaceful period in the city — which hasn’t gone more than 12 days without a homicide since 2015.

For Battle, the city’s violence has defied logic. When he was younger, people would settle differences with punches, not guns, Battle said.

“I grew up in a different era,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t get it.”

Baltimore police did not make Commissioner Michael Harrison available to comment on the resurgence in violence. “We are redeploying resources in response to the recent violence,” police spokesman Matt Jablow said in a statement emailed to The Baltimore Sun.

Acting Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, in his second week leading the city during Mayor Catherine Pugh’s leave of absence, said he was upset about the spate of shootings and is encouraging police and the community to collaborate to solve them.

“I’m really not happy with what happened, but I’m looking forward to our Police Department and officers [doing] the best they can,” Young said in an interview Thursday. “But police officers can’t do it by themselves. We need the community to step forward.”

Gov. Larry Hogan said the day’s violence was a “tragic situation” that concerns him.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of this,” Hogan told reporters on Thursday morning. “Having the lack of leadership in the city doesn’t help the situation at all. I’m happy that we do have a police commissioner in place. … I think we’ve got the right guy in place now.”

He noted that there have been five city police commissioners in the four years he’s been governor, “which is not helping the situation.”

Hogan said he’s been in touch with Young, offering the state’s aid.

“It’s a very difficult time for the city. It’s a difficult time for him, jumping into a role like that,” Hogan said. “But we’re going to provide whatever assistance we can.”

Violence Reduction Initiative zones — a pillar of Pugh’s plan to fight crime — have seen success, Young said, and he said he hopes eventually to expand those zones “all over the city.”

Extra police have been dispatched to the neighborhoods that experienced recent shootings “to make sure these incidents don’t continue,” he said.

Map: Baltimore homicides »

Baltimore’s police union criticized city leaders’ “progressive” approach to the violence in a tweet Thursday — an apparent reference to comments made at a hearing Wednesday on the Department of Justice consent decree.

“How about we treat them like killers! #CityinCrisis,” the tweet said.

Police union president Mike Mancuso did not immediately return a message requesting comment Thursday.

Young expressed confidence that Harrison — who started in the post Feb. 11 — would guide the department toward a friendlier style of policing that restores positive relationships with the community.

“I’m happy with the direction the city Police Department is moving under the leadership of Commissioner Harrison,” the acting mayor said.

Better job training and other resources in the city’s underserved neighborhoods also will play a key role in reducing violent crime, Young said.

Meanwhile, Young said, “I’m asking mothers, fathers, grandparents to talk to the young people in their families. Talk to the young people.”

Thursday’s violence brings to 76 the number of people who have been killed in Baltimore in 2019.

Neighbors like 83-year-old June Jones say a decade has passed since the violence and problems noticeably began in the 2800 block of Parkwood Ave.

With 50 years spent living on the block, Jones looked up toward the police tape surrounding the scene of the quadruple shooting and questioned what it would take to fix the city’s violence.

“God’s gonna have to come through here and clean this up,” she said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Pamela Wood, Tim Prudente, Justin Fenton and Phil Davis contributed to this article.

tprudente@baltsun.com

twitter.com/Tim_Prudente

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