Baltimore returned to a somber milestone last night as three more lives were taken inside the city’s borders, including the city’s 300th and 301st homicide victims of 2016.
The killings happened in Northwest Baltimore’s West Arlington neighborhood just before 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Police said two men, ages 42 and 48, were found shot multiple times there in the 3900 block of Groveland Avenue. The first victim died last night in the hospital, and police revealed this morning that the second one had also passed away.
A third man was killed last night by a Coppin State University campus police officer, though that death won’t be classified as a homicide unless the State’s Attorney’s Office finds the officer’s decision to fire the shots was unjustified.
Chief police spokesman T.J. Smith said at a press conference that the officer shot the man at the intersection of Windsor and Warwick Avenues, right near an elementary school across from the Coppin State campus. According to Smith, a car carrying a gunman came to a halt near the intersection. After the gunman got out and shot at a car coming up the road behind them, a Coppin State campus police officer directly who stopped behind them jumped out of his cruiser and fatally shot him, Smith said. The driver left the scene and left his accomplice dying there, though police did recover the gun.
“The officer happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Smith noted.
With the first two killings in Northwest Baltimore, the city has now reached a 301-homicide mark that up until last year had not been seen in 16 years. In terms of numbers, 2015 was far worse at this point, with the 300-killing mark being surpassed in mid-November instead of with 18 days left in the year. Either way, historically speaking, it’s a terrible trend. Up until last year, Baltimore hadn’t seen 300 homicides since 1999, and the city had even dropped below 200 homicides four year earlier and held close to that mark as recently as 2014, per Sun data. The jump to 344 homicides in 2015 marked a 63-percent increase, much of which followed the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent riots and uptick in violent crime.
It’s not as though all of these murders are remaining unsolved. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis told the Sun earlier this week that the closure rate for homicide cases has jumped from 30 to 37 percent in the last year. Some of the department’s recent high-profile closures have included finding the gunman who allegedly shot six, two of them fatally, outside a Northwest Baltimore convenience store late last month, as well the capture of a teen accused of stabbing a homeless man to death in Southeast Baltimore.
For prosecutors, hitting the 300-homicide mark is “very disturbing,” according to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who Sun reporter Justin Fenton quoted this morning at a gathering with business leaders and Commissioner Kevin Davis.
Mosby points to 79% homicide conviction rate, 93% felony conviction rate for cases not dropped
— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) December 14, 2016
According to Fenton, Mosby pointed out that when prosecutors can carry a case with help from witnesses to court (instead of seeing the cases get dropped), they manage to convict the killers nearly in nearly four of five cases.
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