Cameras Credited With Arrests In 2 Crimes

August 04, 2009|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

Baltimore's expansive police surveillance network has led to a homicide arrest, after a downtown stabbing was captured in real-time by city cameras.

In another case, police arrested a suspect in a fatal shooting after a home surveillance system captured a confrontation on a block where a man was gunned down.

Authorities monitoring the city's blue-light CitiWatch cameras observed an altercation at about 1:40 a.m. Saturday in the 300 block of N. Paca St. and officers who responded to the scene found 18-year-old David Reese suffering from a stab wound to the chest, according to charging documents. Using the cameras, officials tracked the apparent assailant running through a parking lot, and cameras recorded his capture and arrest by police.

Oscar Clarence Skinner III, 18, of the 400 block of Whitridge Ave., was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. A four-inch pocket knife covered with blood was found in the parking lot that Skinner was observed running through. Police believe Skinner and Reese got into an argument, according to records.

Video also played a key role in an arrest made Friday, police said. An investigation into the July 25 shooting death of Marcus Sanchez in Greektown found that the entire incident had been recorded on video surveillance at the home of a resident.

Detective John Riddick wrote that the video shows Sanchez being accosted by two males in the 5100 block of Foster Ave. One pulled a handgun and fired, striking Sanchez in the upper left back as he ran. He continued running, falling next to a vehicle parked on the street, where his body was found. Witnesses identified Michael Steven Akonom, 19, of the 600 block of Rappola Ave., as the person who fired the shots, records show.

Akonom was charged with first-degree murder and ordered held without bond. He had been convicted in May of drug distribution and received a four-year sentence with all but three months suspended. In October 2007 he pleaded guilty to making a threat of arson and received a four-year sentence, with all but four months suspended.

City police recently opened a revamped watch center to monitor their network of hundreds of surveillance cameras, and an Urban Institute study awaiting release found that the cameras have helped reduce crime in the downtown area and assisted detectives in locating witnesses and suspects.

"Baltimore is using cameras in a way that a lot of other jurisdictions are not, by using them pro-actively, especially in the downtown areas where they have monitors watching cameras almost 24-7," said Nancy La Vigne, a senior researcher with the Urban Institute. "It's not just a technology that sits."

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