Police rethink staff on street

Deadly weekend leads city officials to look at deployment

July 18, 2006|By GUS G. SENTEMENTES | GUS G. SENTEMENTES,SUN REPORTER

It wasn't uncommon to find Gurnie Edwards III, through nights and early mornings, perched on the front steps of his mother's East Biddle Street rowhouse, hanging out, talking to people, passing the time.

He was there again Friday, about 4:15 a.m. when he was shot in the head. Hearing gunfire, his mother rushed downstairs to find police and paramedics tending to her son, who died half an hour later at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Edwards' death marked the beginning of a three-day period in Baltimore in which six people were killed or found dead in separate incidents through Sunday night. After one of the deadliest weekends this year, police officials met yesterday to re-evaluate deployment strategies.

"Our senior command staff is meeting to make sure we have the right number of people in the right places," said Matt Jablow, a Police Department spokesman. "We might change our deployment slightly."

Three of the killings occurred in the Eastern District. Five of the six victims were shot. As of yesterday, 14 people had been killed this month, slightly fewer than one a day. Last July, 27 people were killed, making it the second-deadliest month in 2005.

This year, 147 homicides have been recorded in Baltimore, down slightly from 151 at the corresponding time last year, police said.

Jablow said, homicide detectives have cleared 64 of this year's homicides, 14 more than at the comparable time before. Police have cleared an additional 21 cases this year in which the killings occurred in prior years, Jablow said.

Police said they have made no arrests in the spate of killings over the weekend.

Yesterday, as relatives of Edwards attended his funeral, his aunt came to the door at the house where the 46-year-old man was shot. Elizabeth McMillan, 61, said she and others in the neighborhood wanted to know who killed her nephew.

"He didn't bother anyone," McMillan said. "He ran his mouth, but everybody knew Gurnie. He kept you laughing."

Police said they know of no motive, but authorities said family members told them that Edwards grappled with drug addiction. He had a history of arrests and convictions, several of them connected to drugs, court records show.

Seven hours after Edwards was shot, police found a woman dead in an apartment in the 400 block of W. Franklin St. in West Baltimore. A police spokeswoman said the decomposition of her body suggested that she had been dead - apparently stabbed - some time before she was found on Friday about 11:15 a.m.

Police had identified the woman but did not release her name yesterday because her family had not been notified.

Jamie Mills, 33, of Collegeville, Pa., was shot once in the head inside Maceo's Bar in the 1900 block of N. Monroe St. in West Baltimore about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, police said. Mills was pronounced dead half an hour later, police said.

The fourth killing occurred about half an hour later on the city's east side. Dion Williams, 15, of the 3200 block of E. Lombard St., was found shot several times in the 2700 block of E. Monument St.

Relatives told The Sun that the 10th-grader was hanging out with friends when he got into an argument with members of a street gang "for being too loud." One of the boys shot him, family members said.

The fifth victim remained unidentified yesterday. Police said the man was found unresponsive on a sidewalk at 11:57 a.m. Sunday in the 900 block of N. Collington Ave. in East Baltimore. He had been shot multiple times, police said, and was pronounced dead half an hour later.

The sixth victim was gunned down Sunday night. At 10:48 p.m., Northwestern District officers went to the 3600 block of Cottage Ave., where they found Richard Smith, 34, lying under a red Ford Contour sedan, police said.

Paramedics took Smith to Sinai Hospital, where he died at 11:23 p.m. Smith lived in the 3700 block of Park Heights Ave., police said.

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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