By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
The night of May 10, violence visited an Anne Arundel County community in a devastating way. Three adults were gunned down and a child was seriously wounded as a result of an alleged domestic dispute in Maryland City, adjacent to Fort Meade.
“This has to stop. This is devastating,” said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Amal Awad, during a press conference following the triple homicide. “A young child right now is fighting for their life.”
Chief Awad’s (who happens to be the first woman, first person of color and first member of the LGBTQ community to lead Anne Arundel County police) lament is an anomaly in the county she serves; there were 19 homicides total in Anne Arundel County in 2020. But, of course it is an all too familiar refrain in Baltimore City.
Yet, a recent surge of violence in the metropolitan area has not been restricted to city limits.
Another mass homicide recently rocked a Woodlawn community in Baltimore County.
On May 8, four people were killed and another injured in a shooting and explosion in a townhouse neighborhood in the 7500 block of Maury Road, including the alleged gunman who was killed by Baltimore County Police.
The recent homicide cases in Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties coincide with a significant rise in homicides in Baltimore City from last year. And the violence also coincides with a significant drop in COVID-19 cases and deaths over the last several weeks.
Nationally, COVID cases are down 30 percent from two weeks ago, the lowest level since September, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. And there is no state where COVID cases have actually increased over the last two weeks and according to CNN that is the first time that has been true since the early days of the pandemic in the United States in March 2020.
On May 10, Maryland reported the lowest number of confirmed coronavirus cases since last summer, which was the second straight day the number of daily cases dropped below 500. According to the state health department, Maryland’s positivity rate is the lowest it has been since the fall.
Some fear as COVID cases decrease and states ease pandemic restrictions violent crime may increase. And that is a particularly harrowing scenario given violent crime spiked significantly in many U.S. cities, despite crime overall being down in 2020.
Baltimore is not the only major U.S. city that has seen a recent surge in murders. In Chicago, homicides are up 33 percent in the first three months of 2021, compared to 2020. And shootings are up about 40 percent during the same time last year.
In New York City, according to data compiled by the NYPD, murder is up about 14 percent through March 28, while shootings were up nearly 50 percent.
And in Los Angeles, according to the LAPD homicides are up almost 36 percent from 67 to 91, through March 30.
Chicago, New York and L.A., the nation’s three largest cities all saw significant increases in homicides in 2020, while crime did drop overall in all three cities.
In Baltimore, for those who have gone numb after six years of surpassing the 300 homicide mark consider this: Los Angeles a city with a population of about four million recorded 349 homicides, Baltimore with a population of about 630,000 recorded 337 homicides.
Again, 2020 was the sixth year in a row that Baltimore witnessed more than 300 homicides. Los Angeles had not recorded more than 300 homicides since 2009.
As COVID restrictions continue to ease and the country opens back up, the summer lurks with violence on the rise.
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Senior Reporter and the author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.