While residents across the city from Park Heights to Belair-Edison lit grills to enjoy Memorial Day weekend feasts and danced the “Wobble” with family and friends, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts was consoling residents in the Cherry Hill neighborhood.

On the evening of May 24, 16-month-old Carter Scott, became the city’s youngest victim of 2013 gun violence in the 1200 block of Cherry Hill Avenue while sitting in the backseat of his father’s car.

According to police records, three Black men wearing latex gloves, two with hooded sweatshirts, approached a parked red Chevrolet where Rashaw Scott was in the driver’s seat around 7:30 p.m. His son, Carter, was in the backseat.

Police said the men unloaded at least 16 rounds into the car. Carter was hit at least once. Police said the unresponsive boy was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Scott suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Maryland Shock Trauma Center for surgery.

A day later, Batts held a press conference at a strip mall in Cherry Hill just blocks away from the scene of the shooting.

“This was not just something that took place,” said Batts during the press conference. “But the bottom line to get across here, is that this level of violence in this community– whether it is Cherry Hill or any other place in the city of Baltimore– has to end.”

Police have arrested and charged two men–Cornell Harvey, 26, and Eddie Tarver, 20—with shooting Shaw and his son. Both men have been charged with first degree-murder, second-degree murder, first degree-assault, reckless endangerment, illegal possession of a firearm and a myriad of other charges related to the event.

“We’ve made two arrests in that case and we’re looking to arrest more people,” said police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi.

The incident that took the life of Carter was one of three homicides and nine non-fatal shootings that took place during the Memorial Day weekend. A 24-year-old Sykesville man, Blake Harris, was shot at the intersection of Marble Hall Road and Cold Spring Lane around 7:30 p.m. on May 25. He was transported to a local area hospital where he died 30 minutes later, according to law enforcement officials. The third homicide was a police involved shooting in the 300 block of S. Poppleton Street on May 25.

Guglielmi said the weekend’s violent spasm doesn’t necessarily mean there is a link between hot weather and violent street crime.

“This past weekend debunks the theory that warm weather creates spikes in crime,” said Guglielmi, noting an unusually cool Memorial Day weekend this year.

“Crime is created by feuds people have, gang activity and organized crime, drug dealing and domestic violence disputes,” said Guglielmi. “Typically we’re seeing individuals with prior contact with law enforcement inflicting harm on each other.”

In the past two years, little has changed in the city’s violent crime profile. So far there have been 85 homicides and 138 non-fatal shootings in Baltimore as of Memorial Day weekend. Last year, records show 86 homicides and 137 non-fatal shootings by the holiday and at this point in 2011, a year which law enforcement officials regard as a high crime year, there were 79 homicides and 157 non-fatal shootings.

As the summer begins, Guglielmi said the police department is increasing foot patrols in different neighborhoods around the city particularly in the western district, eastern district and pockets of the northeast district, which he said have been problem areas in previous years.

In a preemptive crime-fighting effort in the western district, Councilman Nick Mosby (D-7) started the “ Enough is Enough” series, a wave of weekly police, residents and clergy rallies and prayer walks targeting known criminal hot spots. The series is in its eighth week and is expected to continue through the summer. He said the rally has grown from about 40 people the first week to more than 200 participants in the most recent rally.

“I think it’s been beneficial and impactful as it continues to grow,” said Mosby. “I believe prayer does work.”

“The police have also stepped up their efforts by sending an entire graduating cadet class into the neighborhood and places where you use to see parked police cars, there is now foot patrol.”

Guglielmi said the department is trying new approaches to fight crime. One new tool, called the re-entry initiative, started June 1 to address ways to turn criminal behavior around.

“We’re identifying high risk individuals,” said Lt. Col. Melvin T. Russell, head of community partnerships,. “We’re looking at young guys who are going in and out of our communities, tearing them up and shooting them up. We’re going to focus on them while they are still in jail.”

He explained that under the re-entry initiative churches and non-governmental organizations will work with ex-offenders to provide job training, education, drug rehabilitation and healthcare services. Russell explained that such steps will help alleviate violent crimes in the city.

The spokesperson also said the police department is anticipating the opening of city’s the juvenile curfew center on June 14, to help get young kids off the streets in Baltimore.

“We know kids don’t have a lot of things to do in their neighborhoods and they go downtown to hang out,” said Guglielmi who continued that the city curfew helps to ensure the safety of Baltimore youth in the summer months.

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Krishana Davis

AFRO Staff Writers