Murder rate soars in Baltimore, hits five-month record

WASHINGTON — As the homicide rate in the nation’s capital drops, it is a much different story 40 miles north in Baltimore, Maryland, where murders are soaring to record levels.

A deadly shooting on Wednesday marked Baltimore’s 146th homicide so far this year — the highest number the city has ever recorded during the first five months of a year, as first reported by the Baltimore Sun.

The number of homicides is more than 30 percent higher than this time last year and the number has climbed about 85 percent when compared to three years ago.

“No one is proud of this violence,” said Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith in May. “It shouldn’t be tolerated. We should be doing what we can to make sure there is not another person who is associated with that number.”

The city’s murder rate is among the worst in the nation and has outpaced the level of violence seen in the 1990s, when killings routinely topped 300 annually. It also surpasses rates in Chicago and New Orleans, cities also struggling with gun violence.

Comparatively, in the District, the number of violent deaths has dropped.

According to D.C. police figures, 45 people were murdered so far this year in D.C. — 13 percent lower when compared to the same time period in 2016.

The District has fewer than seven murders per 100,000 residents. Baltimore’s homicide rate triples that, with roughly 24 murders per 100,000.

Baltimore is still struggling to regain its footing after riots broke out in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray, a man who suffered a fatal injury while in police custody.

“Guns, gangs and drugs are what’s driving much of this,” said Smith, as he pleaded with Baltimore families to reach out to troubled friends and relatives.

“This is about all of us stopping the violence,” he said. “If you know you have a loved one that’s involved in guns, drugs and gangs; they are at risk.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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