Baltimore broke its annual per capita homicide record after reaching 342 killings Friday.
With just over 600,000 residents, the city hit a historically high homicide rate of about 57 per 100,000 people after a week of relentless gunfire saw eight people shot — three fatally — in one day and nine others — one fatally — another day.
The new rate eclipses that of 1993, when the city had a record 353 killings but was much more populous before years of residents’ exodus.
By contrast, New York City, with more than 8 million residents, had 306 homicides through Dec. 15.
The Baltimore total is up from 309 in 2018 and matches the 342 killings tallied in 2017 and 2015, the year when the city’s homicide rate suddenly spiked.
A police spokeswoman said the 342nd homicide occurred Friday but details were not immediately available.
Baltimore had the highest murder rate among cities with more than 500,000 residents in 2018. East St. Louis, Illinois, was No. 1 overall with 100 killings per 100,000 residents.
This is the fifth year in a row that Baltimore has reported more than 300 killings.
Before 2015, that number had generally been on the decline.
#breaking: On scene at shooting in NE #Baltimore, a woman is possible victim. Homicide Detectives on scene. Whatever happened it’s caused one woman to pass out, and another to arrive distraught. 1600 E 30th St. Near Alameda. pic.twitter.com/1cNgsEw1al
— Mike Schuh WJZ (@MikeWJZ) October 8, 2019
Reasons for the change vary and are subject to interpretation.
Many have suggested police officers have taken more of a hands-off approach to crimefighting since six of their own were charged in connection with Freddie Gray’s death. None of the officers was ultimately convicted.
Others have attributed it to the apparent free flow of illegal guns, the effects of a punishing opioid epidemic, social inequalities and a lack of decent jobs for many in disenfranchised neighborhoods.
Some say political incompetence at City Hall also has contributed.
Last week, federal and local law enforcement officials unveiled another round of strategies to try to bring down violent crime.
They include federal funding that can help pay for new police officers and a pilot program to fly three surveillance planes above the city during the months that historically have seen high rates of crime.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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