BALTIMORE (WJZ) — City crime spike. A dramatic increase in violence in Baltimore. Dozens of shooting and murders in the last few weeks following the riots last month.

Christie Ileto reports some are concerned police are hesitant to crack down after six officers were charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

No parent should ever have to bury a child, but it’s Vel Hick’s reality.

“He took my baby away from me. That’s my baby,” she said.

Her 33-year-old son Louis is now one of 96 homicides in Baltimore this year–an undercurrent of violence that’s up almost one-third from this time last year.

“People have said its because morale is down, or it’s because the officers were charged. We don’t know that,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

While city leaders are working to curb the rash of bloodshed.

A Baltimore police officer who chose to remain anonymous says the Freddie Gray case impacted policing.

“If you want them to be proactive in patrolling and trying to catch people, I could see them not being interested in doing that,” the officer said.

William Scipio heads Sandtown’s Resident Action Committee–an area once at the heart of April’s unrest.

Ileto: “When was the last time you’ve personally seen an officer in Sandtown?”

Scipio: “Since the riots.”

Community leaders say curbing the violence means solving a systemic problem.

“Jobs. Possibilities,” said Pastor Duane Simmons, Simmons Memorial Baptist Church. “I have young people in my church who are involved. They inform me, ‘Pastor, we really don’t want to do this, but we have no alternative.'”

For now, neighborhoods continue to hear stories from mothers like Vel Hicks, who now only hope for justice.

Community leaders are also asking residents to step up and do their part to keep their neighborhoods safe.

The family of Louis Hicks says they are struggling to pay for his funeral expenses. Donations can be made to the Joseph Brown Funeral Home.

Joseph Brown Fund

410-383-2700

2140 N. Fulton Ave.

Baltimore, MD 21217

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