2 neighborhoods, 5 dead

Residents react differently to outbreak of violence

June 24, 2008|By Gus G. Sentementes and Jessica Anderson | Gus G. Sentementes and Jessica Anderson,Sun reporters

The grief on Bloom Street was scrawled on the pavement, in white and green and red paint. Friends of Brian Goodwin, whom they called "Six-9," had left for him the kind of street memorial that is all too common in inner-city Baltimore: plaintive notes of mourning spray-painted on the street, empty bottles of liquor used to toast him, and T-shirts with his name and photo tied to two light poles.

He would be the first of two young men to die within feet of each other on Bloom Street in recent days.

In Federal Hill, barely three miles off but a world away, two more men were killed by gunfire over the weekend - the first on Battery Avenue near the park, the second around the corner on East Montgomery Street - bodies on streets known more for the trendy night life scene than for late-night street shootings.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's editions incorrectly identified a man who was shot and killed in the 500 block of Bloom St. on June 19. His name was Brian Goodwyn.
The Sun regrets the error.

Both victims lived elsewhere in the city, police said, and in Federal Hill there were no street memorials. Instead, community leaders held a meeting attended by several hundred residents who were briefed on the homicides by the Police Department's chief of patrol, the leader of the homicide unit and the Southern District major, among other commanders.

In two distinctly different neighborhoods, residents are suddenly dealing with the same problem of violence. In both places, residents described their streets as quiet and shootings as the exception rather than the rule, though Bloom Street is surrounded by open-air drug markets while Federal Hill boasts the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards as neighbors. Television crews broadcast live from Federal Hill all weekend and mentioned Bloom Street in the context of other violence occurring in the city.

"It's a great neighborhood," said Larry Magner, who lives in Federal Hill, describing the pair of homicides as "outside coming in." Paul Robinson, president of the neighborhood association, urged attendance at the meeting with this e-mail: "The general sense of security that we all felt living here until this weekend has been shattered. Complacency simply will not cut it anymore."

At the standing-room-only community meeting at a Federal Hill church, police said they had added foot patrols in the neighborhood and would enforce the park curfew.

"This is not a violent area," said Maj. Scott Bloodsworth, a police commander. "For some reason, Federal Hill has become the place to meet."

Residents pressed the police on whether the department has enough resources to dedicate to the neighborhood, with one man standing to declare that Federal Hill is the tax base for the city.

On Bloom Street, Terisha Hicks, 33, who lives on the block where both killings occurred, said, "I've lived here for 11 years and this has never happened. This is not a violent block. This is a homeowners' block. It's unbelievable. That's exactly what it is.

"Police were here for two days and we had no problem," she added. "If they have to sit at the top of the block, then why not? We pay taxes."

Police are responding to each community in different ways. In some areas, where violent crime and the drug trade are ubiquitous, residents can be reluctant to complain about crime in public settings. Instead, police strive to talk with residents in private.

"It isn't one size that fits all for neighborhoods in addressing crime concerns," said Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. "Federal Hill's concerns are being addressed. ... And you'll see things happening on Bloom Street, if you haven't already. We're investing extra resources to address their concerns.

"Our reactions have to be tailored to the neighborhood," the commissioner added. "It's not because people on Bloom Street don't care. Of course they care, but we're going to resolve that in a different way."

Police plan a smaller gathering to address the Bloom Street violence at 11 a.m. today at a recreation center at 2110 McCulloh St.

Despite five killings over the weekend and four others last week in the city, homicides in Baltimore have plummeted this year by more than 30 percent, police statistics show. Through yesterday afternoon, 102 people had been killed in Baltimore, compared with 151 during the same period last year.

The most marked declines have come in the Eastern and Western districts, which together have had 25 fewer homicides this year than last, according to police data through June 14.

The 500 block of Bloom St. lies tucked in the northwest corner of the Central District patrol area, which has had nine killings this year - one more than last year, according to police. But Bloom Street has been relatively quiet, and children who live in the area have been known to play freely in the streets, residents said yesterday. The last shooting that The Sun reported on that block occurred Oct. 17, 1990, when a woman was apparently wounded by a stray bullet.

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