The first days of summer have been busy for the Baltimore Police Department, as a string of shootings and murders have swept the city.
In the first five days of summer, from June 21 to June 25, there were 27 shootings in the city. Police said nine people have been killed, bringing the homicide total, as of June 25, to 111, up nine from the 102 who had died at the same time last year.
“These acts of violence are unacceptable… and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions,” said Col. Garnell Green, Baltimore’s chief of patrol, during a news conference on June 25, the day five people were shot, including one who died.
That incident occurred just before 9 p.m. in the 2900 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway. Police who responded to 911 calls reporting gunfire arrived to find a man shot multiple times. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police did not immediately identify the victim.
A few hours earlier, at 6:34 p.m., a man and a woman who were headed into the Wendy’s restaurant in the 2700 block of Martin Luther King Blvd. were shot by suspects who fled on foot into the 900 block of McCulloch St. The woman was transported to a local hospital suffering from a gunshot wound to the leg. Later, the man walked into a hospital seeking treatment for a non-life threatening gunshot wound, authorities said.
Police said two other shootings—one at the intersection of St. Lo Drive and Sinclair Lane and another in the 2000 block of Northbourne Road—are related. In both incidents, two men were shot in the leg. None of the injuries was believed to be life threatening.
The June 25 shootings followed another spate of violence the previous weekend. On June 22, five people, including four women and a man, were shot in the 700 block of North Kenwood. Donyae Jones, 18, who was shot in the chest, was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Hospital, police said.
Police Commissioner, Anthony Batts addressed the media at a news conference at the scene of Jones’ shooting.
“The spike in the crime over the weekend was unacceptable,” Batts said. “This is a concern. We were having an unusual high spike in crime over the weekend.”
In an emotional interview with the AFRO, Anthony Harvell, Jones’ husband, described his wife as a “sweet, loving person [who] wouldn’t hurt anyone.”
“She didn’t deserve to die,” he said. “I miss my wife.”
Harvell said his wife was two months pregnant and they were planning to announce the big news next month.
“They took everything away from me—two gone, my wife and my unborn child,” he said. “I am so lost. I don’t know what to do without her.”
Police officials said officers responded to 911 calls reporting shots fired on Kenwood around 1:27 a.m. According to police records, the victims were congregating outside in the 700 block of N. Kenwood when a suspect approached on foot and fired at the group. A 54-year-old woman and a 22-year-old woman were shot in the leg; a 20-year-old woman was shot in her left foot. A 26-year-old man was shot in his left arm, police said.
Joanna Harvell, Jones’ mother-in-law, described the aftermath of the shooting.
“There was just so much blood in my house,” she said. After Jones was shot in the chest, she managed to make her way inside the house and upstairs to one of the bedrooms.
“She drew a heart with her own blood on the wall before she died,” Joanna Harvell said.
As Batts canvassed the neighborhood June 22, expressed his condolences to Joanna Harvell her family. She told the AFRO: “The police came to check on me and my family to make sure we were okay.”
Despite that, she no longer feels comfortable in her home.
“I am scared to be here,” she said. “I just want to move.”
Elected officials weighed in on the violence.
“The weekend’s senseless violence will not diminish our resolve to target repeat violent offenders gangs and illegal guns,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in a statement. “We will do everything we can to reduce gun violence and make our neighborhoods safe…”
Rawlings-Blake’s budget was approved on June 17 allocating additional funding to assist with public safety.
Despite the bloodbath, Batts sought to assure the community that the “crime rate is dropping.” Violence, he said, tends to spike between June and September.
“The police department is doing a good job and headed in the right direction,” he said.
Others had harsh words for the police.
City Hall Councilman Carl Stokes told the AFRO that he found it unacceptable that police justified the upswing in violence.
“This message shows that the police department is satisfied with the way things are happening. How is this satisfying?” he asked. “If that’s the case then, people should just pack their belongings and move out of the city or be prepared for the worst.”
Possibly in response to comments he made about the spike in violence that drew criticism, Baltimore police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi was reassigned on June 26. Also on that day, police served search and seizure warrants in the 600 block of N. Kenwood Avenue, a short distance from where Jones was slain.
Several people were arrested and narcotics and handguns were seized, police said.
Batts attended the June 26 Baltimore City Council to answer questions about the violent crime wave.