With 294 homicides, Baltimore likely will surpass 300 homicides this year for the first time since 1999. At the end of October, homicides were up 55 percent citywide year over year, and nonfatal shootings were up 76 percent, says the Baltimore Sun. “There is an idea somewhere out on the street that this amount of violence is perhaps an ideal or opportune time for someone with a score to settle to take advantage of this time and settle that score,” said Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. Dr. Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center downtown says, “The opportunity to go tell some mom her kid’s not coming home is right at the top of the list of bad things that I get to do … “It takes a toll on the doctors, it takes a toll on the nurses, it takes a toll on the rest of the staff, it takes a toll on the chaplains and all of the people who try to help us through these things…” Police in other cities like Washington, Chicago, and Milwaukee are grappling with similar spikes in killings.
Baltimore is among a smaller subset of cities that stand out based on per-capita violence, and perhaps is by itself when it comes to the unique set of challenges — Freddie Gray’s death, the rioting and civil unrest that followed — that have arisen. “It’s in the same neighborhoods time after time, and I can’t imagine living under those circumstances. I can’t imagine being a momma wondering when your kid goes out whether your kid’s ever going to come back again,” Scalea said. “That’s got to be just awful.” The spike in violence hasn’t been limited to killings. Citywide robberies were up 15 percent at the end of October — with business robberies up 125 percent, carjackings up 79 percent and street robberies up 14 percent. Burglary was up 11 percent. “There is no randomness associated with these murders,” Davis said of the majority of this year’s killings. “They’re gang related, they’re retaliatory in nature, and they center around drug disputes. And unfortunately, where there are drugs, there’s money, and where there is money, there are guns.”