In recent months, 12 people have been murdered in the Fulton Heights neighborhood of West Baltimore. Residents whisper that gangs are causing it. Others blame drugs. Some point to both.
“Those three people got killed over there, two got killed at the basketball court, two women got killed in the alley behind the church,” said one man who knew better than to give his name. “They killing over here all the time.”
The latest of the bloody episodes took place March 19, when two women and a man were fatally shot on the second floor of a three-story apartment building in the 2200 block of N. Fulton. The victims have been identified as Brian Powell, 21; Kishawana Pinder, 20; and Tyreka Martin, 20. Police said they have a suspect, but weren’t willing to say anything else about the case the day after the killing.
Residents and community leaders told the AFRO that they have had enough of the bloodshed. People who live in the area walk with their heads down and their eyes sharp, worried that a bullet fired by one gang member at another may miss its target and hit them.
“Its a critical time because people are leery to walk the streets,” said the Rev. Keith E. Bailey, president of the Fulton Heights Community Association. Bailey has lived in the Fulton Heights community for more than 30 years. He owns Eternal Flame Florist & Orch, a floral shop nestled in the 1800 block of W. North Ave.
“We need a lot of help. People are scared to leave their homes.”
At a press conference March 20 a few blocks from the March 19 triple homicide, Baltimore police officials heeded residents’ call for help. Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts announced that the department would deploy 40 cadets to the area after they graduate from the academy March 22. Their mission, he said, is to crack down on the ever-increasing violent crime on the city’s west side.
“We have to build this community back up because right now it is starting to implode on itself and it has been for a number of years,” said Batts.
After the news conference, Batts stuck around to talk to local residents and canvas the neighborhood. He said it is time for a new initiative to crack down on crime because the old ways are not showing results. He said the department needs to begin to look at the cause of the violence, as well as the effect—15 bodies that have fallen since the beginning of the year in the neighborhood.
“We can’t bring jobs. We can’t change those things right now, but we can start building the fabric to prop his community up,” he said.
Local residents said they are relieved to know reinforcements are coming.
“Crime has been rough the last month or two,” said Joyce Howard, who has worked at an optometrist office in the 1800 block of W. North Ave. for nine years and finds the spike in violence alarming.
Meanwhile, residents struggled to cope with the triple slaying—three young people cut down in broad daylight in their own home.
The shooting, which occurred around 9:00 a.m., was cordoned off with yellow police tape for hours as officers combed for clues. The crimson building where the killings occurred faces Westside Elementary School.
Councilman Nick Mosby said the shootings are tragic. The lack of relationship between the community and the police department will continue to drive crime in the area unless something changes, he said.
“When you look at violence, it’s on an increase in the west district. You can expect that there will be in an increase in the spring and summer months,” said Mosby. “You can’t correct the idea of stop snitching and the distrust of the police overnight.”