Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the past three days, two people have been shot on or near Greenmount Avenue in Baltimore. It’s part of a string of violence there…but is gang warfare driving it?
Mike Hellgren looks into the gang at the center of a turf war.
Unsettling and frightening–violence has overtaken the Greenmount Avenue corridor in North Baltimore. In the last month, eight people have been shot. Several of the victims were teenagers and two have died.
The latest incident just this week involved armed, masked men breaking into a home and demanding money.
While the shootings are not all linked, in a rare move, the police commissioner admitted some of the bloodshed is gang-related.
“I want to get more officers on the streets to make sure that we’re safe,” said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
He has shown up at crime scenes on Greenmount and said police are concerned about the Black Guerilla Family, a prison gang that’s working to expand its drug turf.
For years, WJZ has investigated the BGF’s rise in Maryland, including accusations members were brazenly ordering murders on cell phones behind bars, along with champagne and vodka.
Prosecutors also claimed they were behind a high-profile murder at Towson Town Center last year.
The federal government has targeted the gang with dozens of indictments handed down in the past three years.
“We need to make sure that while they’re in prison, they are isolated and not able to carry on gang activity,” said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney.
Public safety experts say the gang warfare and bloodshed all comes down to money.
“The underground economy fuels these things so there’s a demand side for drugs that needs to be addressed,” said Doug Ward, director of the Division of Public Safety Leadership at Johns Hopkins University. “I think many of us have recognized for many, many years that there’s a gang problem in the area.”
The man shot in the armed robbery Monday night was hit in the leg and will survive. The masked robbers fled on foot.