Police Commissioner Anthony Batts (BPD)
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts (BPD)

A young boy and his mother were killed in Baltimore City’s latest murder Thursday morning, police said. According to the Baltimore Sun, the 38 homicides in May are the most in a single month since 1996.

The boy and his mother were found after 8 a.m. in the 100 block of Upmanor Rd., police said. Both had gunshot wounds to the head. CBS Baltimore identified the victims as 31-year-old Jennifer Brown and her 7-year-old son, Tony. Police did not immediately release information about a motive or suspects in the case.

In May, 38 people have been killed in the city, with scores more wounded in non-fatal shootings. While the people who pulled the trigger are the primary source of the violence, much has also been made of police actions — or lack thereof — in response to the surge of violence.

The bloodshed plays out against the backdrop of the fallout from the unrest that followed Freddie Gray’s death and funeral, which included indictments against six police officers in connection with Gray’s death. Anderson Cooper and Sean Hannity have each interviewed anonymous police officers who have said police are not being proactive in their response to the street violence. Reports have also said arrests are down, but Police Commissioner Anthony Batts declined to confirm that on Wednesday.

Gene Ryan of Baltimore’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, issued a statement Thursday speaking to the police fears.

“The criminals are taking advantage of the situation in Baltimore since the unrest,” Ryan said. “Criminals feel empowered now. There is no respect. Police are under siege in every quarter. They are more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty.”

Batts also said police officers have voiced confusion over whether they will be arrested for stopping someone if there is question over whether they have established probable cause, or if they are present at a scene where another officer might have done something illegal.

Police brass are also trying to address morale. Batts attended a meeting of the union’s rank-and-file on Tuesday, where he said he apologized for not implementing training that would have prepared officers to handle violent crowds.

“They want to know that what they do is valued within the city as a whole,” Batts said. “They want to know that when they stand tall and take bricks that they’re appreciated by me, they’re appreciated by the structure and they’re appreciated by the citizens.”

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Technical.ly Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.