Rise in E. Baltimore shootings prompts crackdown by police

February 01, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Troubled by a recent spike in homicides and shootings in East Baltimore, police commanders dispatched 45 extra officers to the area this week to try to quell the violence.

Nine people have been killed in the Police Department's Eastern District since Jan. 1, and 15 have been wounded in shootings, accounting for nearly half of the city's homicides and a third of its shootings last month.

Col. John McEntee, who heads the department's patrol division, said commanders sent drug detectives and members of the tactical units to patrol the streets Tuesday to get a handle on the violence.

"We want to increase the number of arrests," McEntee said. "We want to clear some crimes, find out where some guns are, gather intelligence about what is driving the violence right now."

Police officials say the motives for and locations of the shootings and killings vary. Clarissa Ward, 17, the first homicide victim this year, apparently was targeted for robbery as she took down Christmas lights on her porch in the 2500 block of E. Madison St. Other shootings involve drugs and retaliation, McEntee said.

Tyrone Jackson, 31, of New York, was shot in the upper body Jan. 17 after a fight over drugs, police said. Jackson was treated for his wound and released, and police have arrested a 35-year-old man in that shooting.

Maj. Elfago Moye, commander of the Eastern District, said yesterday that gunfire seems to have eased in recent days. "We put on a full court press," Moye said.

Patrols will also focus on northern parts of the Southeastern District in hopes of preventing violence from spilling into that area. Nobody had been shot or killed this year in the Southeastern District through yesterday afternoon.

Last year, 38 homicides were reported in the Eastern District, about 15 percent of the city's 259 homicides.

Through Wednesday, the city had recorded 19 homicides and 46 shootings this year. Last January, 21 homicides and 65 shootings were recorded.

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