BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The deadliest month in Baltimore in nearly two decades. There are growing concerns police are holding back in the wake of the indictment of several officers in the Freddie Gray case.
Derek Valcourt with the actions being taken to stop the bloodshed.
The spike in crime and murder is so alarming, it has some calling on the mayor to declare a state of emergency for the city.
One day after the discovery of the bodies of a 31-year-old mother and her seven-year-old son — both with gunshots to the head inside their Uplands home — Police Commissioner Anthony Batts tells WJZ detectives are chasing down leads in the case.
“Violence period is not good within our city. But when it touches the babies and it touches the innocents and it touches the moms, that’s problematic for us. So we’re very aggressively pursuing this,” Batts said.
Those murders bring the city’s homicide total so far for the month of May alone to 39 — making it Baltimore’s deadliest month since 1996.
Some community leaders tell WJZ since the indictments of six officers in the Freddie Gray case, they think violence has surged because city police have been holding back.
“They’re leery of getting out of the cars to even question you. They’re leery of even saying hi to you,” said Rev. Keith Bailey, Fulton Heights Neighborhood Association.
“I hear the rumors. I don’t believe that,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, (D) Baltimore.
Congressman Elijah Cummings dismisses the notion that some officers are intentionally doing less.
“You will never convince me that men and women who are sworn to protect and serve people are not doing their best on their jobs. You will not convince me of that,” said Cummings.
But the president of Baltimore’s police, Lt. Gene Ryan, union tells WJZ:
“The criminals are taking advantage of the situation in Baltimore since the unrest. Criminals feel empowered now. There is no respect. Police are under siege in every quarter. They are more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty. Right now they can go to jail for following Supreme Court decisions such as Illinois v. Wardlow. The Baltimore States Attorney’s Office essentially overturned the Supreme Court’s decision. We hope that all leadership will come together to support the police to move the community forward.”
Baltimore’s mayor says surges in violence after indictments of officers have been common in other cities as well.
“Is it challenging us in ways that previously were unimaginable? Absolutely. But we will become a safer city,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. “And we’re going to do it the right way — in partnership between the community and the police.”
Baltimore’s police commissioner tells WJZ he does not believe the violence is random and much of it is gang-related.
Last year, Baltimore saw a total of 210 homicides. So far this year, the city is already up to 111.