A man in his 30s died after he was shot several times early Thursday two blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, police said, one of two fatal overnight shootings in the city as violence continues to surge in Baltimore after a recent lull.
Police also made two homicide arrests in separate cases, including a 15-year-old who turned himself in, as detectives continue to close cases at a higher clip than last year.
The victim of the downtown shooting, Milton Stepney Sr., 32, was shot about 2:40 a.m. at Eutaw and Lombard streets after he got into an argument with a man at a carryout restaurant and came at the man with a tire iron, said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman.
According to witnesses, the man, who had attempted to defuse the argument, produced a handgun and said, "Do you think I'm a joke?" He then shot Stepney several times and fled.
Stepney, of the 1600 block of Vincent Lane, was taken to nearby Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died about an hour later, police said.
City officials confirmed that Stepney was a city employee, working for the Department of Transportation as a laborer.
The shooting took place within blocks of 1st Mariner Arena and the Baltimore Convention Center, the latest instance of violence in the downtown area.
A man was critically injured Sunday in a stabbing near the Basilica of the Assumption, and police have been battling spurts of violence associated with downtown clubs and bars.
Stepney's fatal shooting was the second in a three-hour span in the city Wednesday night and Thursday morning. A 32-year-old man was fatally shot about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday in the 1100 block of W. North Ave., police said. Curtis Brown of the 2200 block of McCulloh St. was pronounced dead a short time later at Shock Trauma.
Police also said a man was shot six times about 8 p.m. Wednesday in Northeast Baltimore, in Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy's neighborhood. He was reported in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Homicides are now up more than 12 percent compared with this point last year, after nearly two weeks passed with one killing - a relative achievement for a city that saw an average of two killings every three days last year. Baltimore has now recorded 91 homicides for the year, compared with 81 at this point last year.
Detectives are closing cases at a higher rate, however. With the arrests of two suspects this week, the homicide unit has cleared nearly 60 percent of its cases, compared with 46 percent at this point last year. As of Wednesday, 34 cases had been closed, compared with 20 at this point last year.
One of the suspects is 15-year-old Christopher Briggs, who, accompanied by an attorney, turned himself in at the Northeastern District on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Keon Cameron, Moses said.
Cameron allegedly got into a fight with Briggs about 3 a.m. Saturday in the 1800 block of E. 28th St. Detective Roscoe Lewis wrote in charging documents that Briggs said he would leave and come back to "take care of" Cameron; he returned with a gun and fatally shot Cameron, police say.
Detectives also closed the Aug. 20, 2008, homicide of Eric Brown, 20, who was found lying on the ground in the 1000 block of Edmondson Ave. about 6 p.m. suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. Tavon Julian Grey, 26, was charged March 16 and picked up on a warrant early Thursday.
In addition, police have identified two homicide victims from the Memorial Day weekend, when five people were killed. Sean Howard, 24, was identified as the man shot Monday in the 3100 block of Cliftmont Ave. Howard, whose last known address was in the 3100 block of Lawnview Ave., was on probation.
A man shot at Sinclair Lane and North Chester Street on Sunday was identified as 41-year-old Quite S. Vanterpool of the 1700 block of E. North Ave. Police said Vanterpool was on parole and had past murder and arson convictions.
Baltimore Sun reporter Brent Jones contributed to this article.