Just 11 hours into the new year a 60-year-old woman was slain during a domestic dispute in her apartment on Raynor Avenue. On Jan. 29 a 26-year-old man was gunned down during a still unexplained shooting outside his house in the 3300 block of Elmley Avenue.
The two murders were the first and the last of the month of January, and in between 29 other people met a violent death as homicide detectives scrambled to keep up with Baltimore's climbing murder rate.
January's 31 slayings -- a pace that, if maintained through the rest of the year would eclipse 1972's record of 330 murders -- is three more than recorded the previous January, said Dennis S. Hill, a police spokesman.
"There is very little a police officer can do to prevent a homicide because they almost never happen where the police are," Mr. Hill said.
The police spokesman said the upturn in homicides is in line with the trend in other large cities, such as Washington and Detroit, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
"We feel that our greatest hope for getting some kind of results is when people and community organizations get vocal," Mr. Hill said.
Mr. Hill said that each of the 7 major crime categories used by the FBI to gauge an area's crime rate last year showed a cumulative 9.3 percent increase in Baltimore.
The police spokesman said the violent crime categories of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault combined for a 14.9 percent increase, while property crimes of burglary, larceny and auto theft rose collectively by 7.7 percent.
Crime, which tends to rise during good weather, rose dramatically during the first three months of last year when the city experienced unseasonably warm weather. But steady declines in crime were reported during each of the remaining quarters, Mr. Hill said.
"Weather is a factor because it increases the number of potential victims on the street," Mr. Hill said.
Baltimore's epidemic of killings has not shown any signs of spilling over into neighboring subdivisions, where the homicide rates have remained somewhat stable over the years.
Baltimore County authorities have yet to record a single homicide. They reported four homicides in JanSee HOMICIDE, 8B, Col. 4HOMICIDE, from 1Buary 1990. Anne Arundel County has had only one homicide this year, compared to none for January a year ago.
But in Howard County four homicides were reported in January, one less than the total for all of last year, according to Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, a police spokesman. He said the county usually averages five or six slayings a year.
As Baltimore finished out last year with its worst murder rate in years, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke met with Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods and vowed not to allow the violent trend to continue.
A program to get guns off the streets, and joint federal task
forces involving the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have been announced, along with community-oriented efforts to help rein in the street violence.
City homicides by police districts
District... ... 1989... ... .1990
Central... ... ...32... ... .. 39
Southwestern... ..22... ... .. 35
Southern... ... . 37... ... ... 9
Northern... ... . 19... ... .. 16
Northwestern... . 31... ... .. 39
Western... ... .. 45... ... .. 78
Northeastern... . 25... ... .. 26
Eastern... ... .. 36... ... .. 43
Southeastern... . 15... ... .. 20
Total... ... ... 262.. ... ...305