Deputy Commissioner John Skinner talks to the media. (Justin Fenton )
Dozens of city police officers trudged through the Gilmor Homes housing project in West Baltimore on Tuesday afternoon, passing out fliers and hoping to turn up tips on several recent shootings.
Battered by 27 shootings that claimed nine lives over five days, police said they need help to make arrests and prevent additional violence. Deputy Commissioner John Skinner said crime-weary residents have been coming forward.
"We have incredible leads on some of these incidents, and those are coming from the neighborhoods themselves," Skinner said. "We're hoping to hone in on those tips and hold people accountable."
On Thursday evening, 27-year-old Darrell Banks was fatally shot in the 1600 block of Mountmor Court, on the northwest edge of the Gilmor Homes housing project. Residents said many people were out that night, but police haven't been able to gather enough evidence to close the case.
Streaks of red and white candle wax marked the steps of an apartment where police say Banks died, along with balloons that read, "You'll be missed." Banks was known around the neighborhood as "Buck," but no one offered a reason why he might have been targeted.
As Baker Street resident William Richardson blared "We are the World" from speakers propped up in his front door, a commander in a crisp white shirt tossed a football with a young boy. Several residents took the fliers and chatted briefly with the officers.
Sharon Parham, 57, was not among them. Standing in front of an apartment with an open beer bottle, she complained that police harass residents for minor violations and then ask them for help in solving crimes. She pointed to surveillance cameras hanging over the spot where Banks was killed.
"Two of 'em, [and the shooting happened] in the daylight," Parham said. "Why are they trying to use us to find information?"
Sitting on a front step, Linda Lawson, 41, said she makes sure to keep her son inside or engaged in activities, and said moving somewhere else has taken on greater urgency. "What these mothers go through [losing children], I can't go through it myself," she said.
In Remington, a nonprofit that works with city youth called The Intersection launched a "listening campaign" to draw awareness to urban gun violence. An organizer, Zeke Cohen, noted that more people were killed in Baltimore in 2012 than those in mass shootings in Aurora, Sandy Hook, Columbine and Virginia Tech combined.
"I've lost cousins, uncles and friends to gun violence," said Taikira White, a 16-year-old high school student at Baltimore City College. "I am sick of people losing their lives. I am sick of funerals; I am sick of brothers and sisters killing one another."
Dena Robinson, a teacher at Hamilton Elementary/Middle School, said she polled her students about gun violence and whether it had personally impacted them, and said 95 percent had witnessed a shooting, lost close family members or nearly become victims themselves.
"We should not become complacent in a society where gun violence is as ingrained in our daily realities as brushing our teeth," Robinson said.
The violence continued Tuesday evening, when five people were shot, one fatally, in four separate incidents within a three-hour span.
A man and woman were both shot in the leg by unknown assailants about 6:30 p.m. in the 700 block of North Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the Upton neighborhood, near a Wendy's restaurant. Police said the shooters fled and believe the incident was partially captured on video.
About 7:10 p.m., a male was shot in the leg near the intersection of Sinclair Lane and St. Lo Drive, next to the Clifton Park golf course in Northeast Baltimore, police said. His age was not given.
Shortly after 8 p.m., a man was shot, also in the leg, in the 2000 block of Northbourne Road, in the Perring Loch neighborhood of Northeast Baltimore, police said. Police said they believe the incident might be related to the earlier shooting near the intersection of Sinclair and St. Lo.
Before 9 p.m., another man was fatally shot near the intersection of Gwynns Falls Parkway and North Longwood Street, just south of Hanlon Park, police said. The man was shot multiple times, police said.
"These acts of violence are unacceptable, and those responsible will be held accountable for their actions," said Col. Garnell Green, the department's chief of patrol, who briefed the media late Tuesday. He said detectives are working "around the clock" to investigate.
"We have good leads in many of these cases and we expect arrests soon," Green said.
Police ask anyone with information on any shootings to call 1-866-7-LOCKUP.