City homicides approach '05 tally

total violent crime shows decline

December 13, 2006|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,Sun reporter

With 18 days left in 2006, Baltimore is closing in on last year's tally of 269 homicides.

Two men were killed in shootings on opposite ends of the city Monday night and Tuesday morning in apparently unrelated incidents, raising the number of slayings in Baltimore this year to 255. The city has had eight homicides so far this month - including the fatal stabbing of a juvenile - compared with seven homicides for the same period in December 2005, statistics show.

Baltimore's stubborn homicide rate has kept pace with last year, though it remains below the 300 mark it had topped each year during the 1990s. Police officials have shifted dozens of officers from administrative duties to the streets in recent months in an attempt to curtail robberies and shootings, which are up 9 percent and 18 percent, respectively, over last year, statistics show.

But total violent crime, which includes homicide, rape, robbery and all aggravated assault incidents, is down 5 percent this year through early December, police crime statistics show.

Meanwhile, property crime is down 3 percent citywide this year, though some districts - such as the Southeastern, Eastern, and Northern - have seen sharp increases in burglaries. Police also have made more burglary arrests in each of those districts, statistics show.

Matt Jablow, a Police Department spokesman, said that shootings have remained a problem this year, but other crime trends have taken a turn for the better in the past month.

"Again, we'll be looking at our lowest violent crime number in 30 years," Jablow said.

Monday's fatal shooting occurred near the intersection of North Avenue and Mount Street in West Baltimore shortly after 5 p.m. The victim, Theodore D. Caldwell, 29, of the 2600 block of Madison Ave., was gunned down on a sidewalk and died a short time later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, police said.

In Northeast Baltimore's Belair-Edison neighborhood about 9:30 a.m. yesterday, Steven Richey, 41, was shot outside his home in the 3400 block of Cliftmont Ave. and died an hour later at Johns Hopkins Hospital, police said.

No arrests had been made and motives for the slayings were unknown.gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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