Homicides in Baltimore topped the 300 mark. The death toll is highest since 1990, and with more than a month remaining for the year to end, city officials fear 2015 might be the bloodiest year so far.
Baltimore witnessed more than 300 homicides this year. Routinely occurring riots and violence has caused the death toll in the city to rise to alarming levels. In fact, 1990 was the only year in which such concerning numbers were observed. Moreover, with more than a month still remaining, law enforcement officials are deeply concerned this year might turn out to be the bloodiest ever.
Baltimore’s streets claimed its 301st victim on Saturday. A young male in his twenties was found shot in the chest at around 9:15 p.m. reported CBS News. The 300th victim, a 27-year-old man, was subjected to a brutal attack with a sharp object, presumably a knife. He was found with multiple stab wounds. With his vitals failing, the victim was rushed to a hospital. The man died shortly after being admitted.
Riot related deaths and killings have been rising in a number of cities in the U.S. However, the situation is the most concerning in Baltimore. As compared to last year, death toll has risen by more than 40 percent, confirmed the local police. Though such killings are a relatively common occurrence in Baltimore, homicide rates has never been this high since the 1990s. This year is the first time the annual homicide toll has topped 300 since 1999, when 305 were recorded, reported Business Insider.
Homicides have been rising alarmingly since widespread protests and rioting began in April. The retaliations were quite intense against the backdrop of the death of a black man in police custody. The aggressive civil unrest was sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died from injuries suffered in police custody. Gray died of a fatal spinal injury, in what is being termed as a definitive proof of police brutality. Till date, six officers have been charged in the death of Gray.
In the days following Gray’s death, there were 42 homicides. The number of people killed on the streets has remained quite high since; receding marginally in June, only to rise again in the subsequent months. In July, law enforcement officials recorded an alarming 45 homicides in Baltimore. Reports indicate July was the darkest in Baltimore’s tumultuous and violent history. It was way back in 1972, when Baltimore had witnessed such a surge in killings.
Annual homicide rate stayed above 300 a year, only during the 1990s. The highest number of killings was recorded in 1993, when 353 cases of homicides were reported.
Experts speculate the booming illegal drug trade, combined with easy access to small arms like handguns, is most likely the cause behind the rise in the number of homicides. Drugs, weapons, and repeat offenders are a lethal combination, which inhibits judgment and makes committing murder not only easy, but sometimes fun as well. Moreover, rival gangs who operate on the streets, routinely target each other to capture the other’s territory or “turf.” In June, police officers indicated that gangs were even targeting pharmacies. A large stash of drugs not only made the pharmacies a high value target, but allowed the gangs to walk away with huge loot, which invariably led to intense gang wars, reported News Max.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey claimed last month that homicides were rising because police weren’t resorting to aggressive tactics owing to the fear of being recorded and later accused of brutality. Increasing number of amateur videos and news that show multiple instances of police using strong-arm tactics are ample proof.
Terming it a “sad homicide milestone,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has urged the citizens to “pause and vow to continue our collective fight to find a better path forward.”
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