It was a year for records in Baltimore — record-breaking rain, election results and an all-time terrible baseball team.
Tragedy and scandal rocked the region in 2018. These were the stories that dominated headlines during the last year.
Capital Gazette shooting
A gunman broke into the Capital Gazette newsroom in June, killing five employees of The Sun’s sister papers: Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Gerald Fischman and Rebecca Smith. Despite the attack, the staff published a paper the next day.
“I can tell you this: We are putting out a damn paper,” reporter Chase Cook wrote on Twitter the afternoon of the shooting.
A 38-year-old Laurel man has been charged in the killings. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial was postponed to June 2019.
Rain, rain and more rain
With over 68 inches of precipitation and counting, 2018 became the wettest year on record in Baltimore. Super-saturated ground led to widespread flooding throughout the year, the effects of which were never more evident than in May, when Ellicott City was devastated by the second major flood in two years. The deluge killed a man, Sgt. Eddison “Eddie” A. Hermond, and shut down Main Street in the historic milltown — causing county officials to reconsider their approach to flood control in the area and prompting business owners to question whether they would return and rebuild.
Officer Amy Caprio’s death
Officer Amy Caprio, 29, became the first female Baltimore County police officer killed in the line of duty in May, when she was fatally struck by a stolen Jeep while responding to a call in Perry Hall. “She was the kind of officer that was going to go up in this organization,” Baltimore County Chief of Police Terrence Sheridan said of the four-year veteran. Four Baltimore teenagers — Dawnta Harris, Darrell Ward, Derrick Matthews and Eugene Genius IV — were charged as adults with first-degree murder and other counts in Caprio’s killing. They are being held until their trials in 2019.
Gubernatorial election and the death of Kevin Kamenetz
Larry Hogan won a second term as Maryland’s governor, becoming the second Republican to do so in state history. Perhaps Hogan’s strongest Democratic challenger, former Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, died in May — before the primary election. After Kamenetz’s death, Ben Jealous won the Democratic nomination for governor. Hogan defeated Jealous in the general election with more than 56 percent of the vote.
The Orioles’ all-time low
It was a year for records in Baltimore — not all positive. The Orioles smashed records with their worst season, becoming the team with the most losses in club history at 115. They had only 47 wins.
After trading some of their biggest stars — including, notably, Manny Machado — the team parted ways with manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette. Mike Elias, formerly of the Houston Astros, took over the general manager role and former Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde was hired as manager. Here’s hoping they can put up a better season in2019.
Police commissioner turnover
The search for Baltimore’s next police commissioner has dominated headlines as Baltimore prepares to onboard its fourth since the start of 2018. In January, Mayor Catherine Pugh fired then-commissioner Kevin Davis, replacing him with Darryl De Sousa. De Sousa was ousted in May after he was charged with failing to file federal tax returns; he pleaded guilty in December.
Gary Tuggle took over for De Sousa as interim commissioner amid Pugh’s search for a permanent police chief. He was initially in the running for the position, but withdrew his name in October. Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald emerged as Pugh’s nominee. He was formally nominated in early December and must be confirmed by the Baltimore City Council.
Shootings in St. Mary’s and Harford counties
Maryland was the site of fatal shootings at both a warehouse and a school in 2018. In March, a 17-year-old gunman killed one fellow student and injured another at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County — less than a week after participating in a national walkout to call for an end to gun violence. And in September, a temporary worker at a Rite Aid warehouse in Harford County shot seven people, killing three before killing herself.
Jordan McNair’s death and upheaval at the University of Maryland
The University of Maryland became embroiled in scandal after football player Jordan McNair, a 19-year-old redshirt freshman, collapsed from heatstroke at a May 29 practice and died two weeks later. His death led to investigations that revealed a problematic culture within the university’s football program and led to the ouster of several university leaders.
Football coach D.J. Durkin and three members of his staff were placed on administrative leave, and Durkin was later fired by University President Wallace Loh. Loh announced he would resign in June 2019, and James Brady, chair of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, also resigned.
The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is reviewing the university’s accreditation.
Gun Trace Task Force trials
The Baltimore Police Department’s disgraced Gun Trace Task Force carried out a campaign of extortion and robbery, targeting suspected drug dealers and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash over at least three years. Two officers were found guilty at trial in the case, and seven more, including an ex-Philadelphia cop, pleaded guilty. A state commission was formed to look into the racketeering scandal.
The rise of hate crimes
Amid a national spike in hate crimes, Maryland too saw a rise in hate-based crimes. Reports of hate or bias increased 35 percent from 2016 to 2017, with 398 reports last year, according to a Baltimore Sun investigation. Hate crimes reported to police in the 10 largest U.S. cities rose 13 percent last year. Hate crimes that gained national attention continued through 2018, including a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
More notable news
Of course, there were many other big stories in 2018 beyond these 10. Here are some other notable ones:
» Dallas Dance pleads guilty, serves jail time: Former Baltimore County schools superintendent Dallas Dance pleaded guilty to four counts of perjury for failing to disclose nearly $147,000 in income from consulting jobs — including from a company he helped win a no-bid contract with the school system. He was sentenced to six months in jail, and was released two months early.
» Crime continues amid police scandals: While Baltimore’s homicide rate is down from last year’s per-capita record, the city is still plagued by violence — reaching 300 homicides for the fourth year in a row. It comes at a turbulent time for the department,
» Former state Sen. Nathaniel Oaks pleads guilty to corruption: The longtime state legislator from Baltimore pleaded guilty in March to federal corruption charges and resigned his seat in the Maryland General Assembly. He admitted to taking over $15,000 in payments in exchange for helping an FBI informant posing as an out-of-town developer.