A violent start to the year continued with three people shot on Baltimore's west side Tuesday morning, including a 17-year-old girl who died after she and a man were shot in an alley.
Though the city started the year with almost 11 days without a gun homicide, it belied a string of nonfatal shootings that was higher than the beginning of 2012. Five people were killed last weekend, and the city has started off 2013 with a 65 percent increase in gun violence compared with the same time last year.
Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, speaking at a previously scheduled meeting to highlight partnerships with federal and state law enforcement leaders, said he was satisfied with the "energy level" authorities are showing in moving against violence. Last year's homicide rate increased but was still the second-lowest since the late 1980s.
"We've had a slight spike that has taken place since Friday. We're responding to that spike, and we've readjusted our deployment numbers to stay on top of the issues in the community," Batts said.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said investigations were ongoing. "I warn violent criminals who are carrying guns on the streets of Baltimore: We know who you are, and we're after you and we're going to catch you," he said in front of television news cameras.
Tuesday's shootings occurred within minutes. At around 10:30 a.m., police said, a man was shot in the groin while inside a liquor store at the corner of North Fulton Avenue and West Lexington Street. While rushing to the scene, a police cruiser and another vehicle crashed at the intersection of Mulberry and Monroe streets, taking out a utility pole and shutting down traffic in the area.
The police cruiser ended up on a grassy lot with all its air bags deployed, while the front of the other vehicle was smashed. But police said the drivers were not badly injured.
Around the same time, a double shooting was reported in Southwest Baltimore in the 3900 block of Mulberry Street. Police said the 17-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man were shot, with the man suffering only graze wounds.
The victims were not from the city, but additional details about the incident were not available.
Col. Dean Palmere, the chief of criminal investigations, said a motive was not known. "We're still interviewing witnesses," he said.
At the scene, officers stood in a field behind the 300 block of Lyndhurst St., and witnesses said the victims had been in a blue pickup truck. There were tire marks leading out of the field to where the truck was parked.
Much of the city's recent violence has been concentrated on the west side, after a spate of violence at the end of 2012 occurred around Greenmount Avenue, where the Police Department's Northern and Eastern districts meet. Batts has attributed those shootings largely to warring gangs.
Two people were also shot and injured on Monday night. The first was reported at 6:22 p.m., when Baltimore County officers advised city detectives of a walk-in shooting victim at Northwest Hospital.
The 23-year-old man suffered from a gunshot wound to his left hand, and he told detectives he was walking to a bus stop at Liberty Heights and Parkview avenues in Grove Park when a car drove by shooting at him.
A relative drove him to Northwest Hospital and he was transferred to a city hospital.
At about 9:10 p.m., Baltimore police responded to Sinai Hospital, where another shooting victim had checked in. The 33-year-old man told investigators he was leaving a liquor store at Boarman Avenue and Reisterstown Road in Central Park Heights when he was approached by a man of average height between 18 and 25 years old with a gun.
The men engaged in a struggle, at which point police said the victim was shot twice in the torso. The suspect then fled. Police suspect robbery as a motive and said the victim is expected to survive.
Tuesday's news conference at police headquarters was called to reaffirm that law enforcement agencies are cooperating in the city, including state police and federal agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Batts said "crime will have ebbs and flows. You'll have good weekends and bad weekends. It's about sustainability throughout the year. This collaboration has made the difference," he said. "We're going in the right direction."
Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George contributed to this article.
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