A fatal stabbing and a fatal shooting over the weekend brought Baltimore’s homicide count past 300 for the first time since 1999, pushing the city across what the Baltimore Sun calls a deadly threshold once considered a relic of the past. The latest killings continued a surge of violence — more than a killing per day — that began in late April after Freddie Gray’s death and the accompanying unrest. The spate of violence, along with the city’s population decline over time, now has Baltimore poised to hit another sobering milestone: the deadliest year on a per-capita basis. That is an abrupt turnaround from 2011, when city leaders were encouraged by the first drop below 200 homicides since the 1970s. “Unless we come together as an entire community we are just going to continue to watch this happen,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who has found herself waking up in the middle of the night to check her phone for reports of another homicide.
City Councilman Brandon Scott, who was a teenager in Baltimore in the 1990s, said the pace of violence drove him into public service. “I’m so sick of this,” the 31-year-old Scott said at the scene of a recent killing in his Northeast Baltimore district. “I’m disappointed in all of us in Baltimore … from leadership on down,” he said. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called the spike “atrocious” and a “horrible situation” that must be solved. “Baltimore City is just out of control with respect to the murder rate,” Hogan told WBAL radio. Baltimore’s 2015 homicide rate currently sits at 47 per 100,000 people, second only to the rate in St. Louis, which has also seen a steep spike in gun violence this year. Total shootings in Baltimore are up nearly 80 percent over the comparable period last year, while other types of crime, including robbery and burglary, have also increased.