A man who allegedly entered a rowhouse in the city's Central Park Heights neighborhood uninvited, hid a handgun behind a living room sofa and then assaulted the homeowner as she was trying to get him to leave was arrested Wednesday night in Baltimore while lying on the home's front porch — marking the 1,000th gun-related arrest in the city this year.
The strange arrest was made by two officers on a newly created foot patrol beat in the neighborhood about 6:43 p.m., and was touted as a significant milestone about two hours later by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts during a news conference at the scene.
The two officers involved in the arrest in the 3700 block of Manchester Avenue — Detective Milton Scott and Detective Steven Slack — were thanked by the mayor and commissioner, who praised the commitment of officers throughout the city Police Department in fighting gun violence.
"This is not a celebration. This is a call for further action," Rawlings-Blake said outside the home, adding she wants to make Baltimore one of the nation's safest cities — an oft-repeated goal.
There were "lots of babies inside, little kids" in the home at the time of the incident — which police described as a "home invasion" — and the suspect had "put a family at risk" before the officers responded, Batts said.
Quincy Holmes, 19, of the 2900 block of Thorndale Ave., was arrested and faces charges of burglary, third and fourth degree trespassing, handgun violations, second degree assault and possession of a firearm, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.
That officers were able to respond so quickly is just one reason the new foot patrols Batts implemented are working so well, Batts said.
The recent string of deadly gunfire between the Black Guerrilla Family gang and the Bloods gang over drug territory has also dropped off in the last week or two following the increase in foot patrols, he said.
"We haven't had any gang-related violence since we got these foot patrols out here," he said.
Many other details of the Wednesday night arrest — including why the suspect was lying on the porch when officers arrived — were not made available. The gun recovered was a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, police said.
The total number of gun arrests has resulted in more than twice as many weapons — about 2,000 — being taken off city streets, officials said. A similar number of guns were taken off city streets last year.
Oscar Cobbs, 66, a community leader who has lived in the area since 1977, said he has appreciated the foot patrols.
"They are a good deterrent. They allow swift action, quick action, when they are around, and they give us the opportunity to be a little bit safer community," he said.
He said he is also glad guns are being taken off the street, but that the problem of gun violence in the city is far from under control.
"I'm glad we got 1,000 guns, but there's more than that in the city. There's probably more than that in this neighborhood," Cobbs said. "But it's a good milestone. It lets us know things are happening."
Just before 8:30 p.m., as Rawlings-Blake and Batts were preparing to speak at the scene of the gun arrest, a man was shot in the leg about five miles to the south, in the 700 block of N. Augusta Avenue in the city's Edmondson Village neighborhood.
Batts said the problem with gun violence in Baltimore is persistent, but that the department's focus on guns is working, and he plans to continue it. He also has more ideas in mind, he said.
Batts said he had met earlier Wednesday with Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, to discuss gun policy and the fact that a focus on pulling guns off the street correlates with a drop in the homicide count.
He said they also discussed pushing for new legislation that would require gun owners in Baltimore to register their guns directly with the Police Department, not just the state.
If they could accomplish that, Batts said, it would "be one of those touchdowns" in the fight against crime.