Five fatal shootings over weekend crimp police progress in Baltimore

O'Malley says violence may worsen before June

March 28, 2000|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

After weeks of what police commanders viewed as progress in the fight to reduce city homicides, five people were killed and at least 10 others were wounded during the deadliest weekend on Baltimore streets this year.

The violence -- which included one double and two triple shootings Sunday -- could derail Mayor Martin O'Malley's and Police Commissioner Ronald L. Daniel's goal of making Baltimore streets safer by June.

O'Malley rebuffed that suggestion, but said he expects more killings before the situation improves this summer, when homicides and gun violence traditionally increase.

Saying aggressive policing has displaced drug gangs, which has resulted in turf battles and the upswing in killings, O'Malley said, "The reality is it is probably going to get a little worse before it gets better."

But even in a city that has recorded more than 300 homicides a year for the past decade, police said yesterday the latest round of bloodshed was alarming.

"This level of violence -- is certainly not acceptable to us, and, if anything, [it] reinforces our strategy that is being put in place," said Maj. Michael Bass, department spokesman.

Four people were killed in 20 hours Sunday.

Nine people have been killed since Wednesday, almost doubling the monthly homicide total in five days.

Police report 64 homicides and at least 190 nonfatal shootings in the first 87 days of the year, compared with 62 homicides at this time last year, when the city recorded 308 murders. "Summer is not even here yet, and we have a homicide [on the block] already," Donald Alexander, 47, said yesterday as he pointed to where the latest killing occurred Sunday night in the 4000 block of Edgewood Road in Ashburton, where he lives.

Jonathan D. Wilson, 18, who lived on the block, was shot multiple times there about 9: 30 p.m.

Police said Wilson, Gregory Henderson, 18, and Juan Brown, 14, were standing on the sidewalk when five or six men approached. As the three tried to run into Brown's house, one of the men brandished a handgun and fired several shots, striking the three. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene. Brown and Henderson were treated and released from Sinai Hospital.

Earlier Sunday, a 33-year-old mother of three was shot and killed and a man was wounded in the parking lot of Five Mile House. Police suspect the shooting resulted from a dispute inside the nightspot in the 5300 block of Reisterstown Road.

Shortly after midnight Sunday, two unidentified men were fatally shot and a woman was wounded in the 1300 block of N. Washington St.

Police said yesterday they do not believe the killings are related, but they have no suspects in the weekend slayings.

Homicide detectives have solved 38 percent of this year's slayings -- roughly the same percentage as last year -- and O'Malley warns it might take a while to increase arrests. "It is going to take time to build back up our ability to solve cases," O'Malley said. "It is one thing to redeploy officers, it is another to solve cases and make arrests."

The weekend's violence followed several weeks of relatively few homicides.

After recording almost one a day in January, during which O'Malley criticized his new police commissioner for not curtailing crime fast enough, police reported 25 more homicides last month and the first three weeks of this month.

Police officials had also been encouraged recently about the apparently successful effort to clear 10 open-air drug markets during O'Malley's first six months in office.

The Sun reported two weeks ago that Pen Lucy residents were applauding the police operation there, because no one had been shot in the neighborhood this year.

Until Saturday.

Derrick Brewer, 20, was shot multiple times and died at 5: 30 a.m. Saturday outside his home in the 4200 block of Ivanhoe Ave.

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