By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– So far this year, Baltimore is outpacing other cities like New York and Philadelphia when it comes to murders.

The neighborhood where a Baltimore police detective was shot and later died, is notorious for gun violence.

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The Harlem Park area is often called a war zone, filled with drugs, shootings and murders; the reason why detective Sean Suiter was there in the first place.

“It’s the trenches, when we say it’s the trenches, we don’t mean that as a joke,” said a West Baltimore man. “I’ve been living around here for 14 years. Bennett Place has been indicted since before I lived around here.”

Months ago, two teens were killed there, including 15-year-old Jeffrey Quick.

“That hurt,” said one of Quick’s friends.

More than a dozen people have been gunned down there in recent years.

“It’s a terrible situation, but prayerfully it’s going to end safely,” said Larry Mulkey who is an associate pastor at Providence Inspirational Baptist Church. It also served as command post during the initial search for the gunman.

Mukley hopes the gunman’s capture won’t lead to any more bloodshed or ill will towards the city.

“Just know that everybody in the community is not evil and wicked and everybody doesn’t’ have the hurts that these people have gone through,” he said.

“It’s a sad thing man. It’s a sad thing. Because this cop doing a job just like you’re doing your job,” Ricky Moore said. “His job is to protect and serve and somebody killed this guy? That mean that the guy who killed him don’t care about nobody.”

Moore watched from his window as police swarmed the area.

“This whole area was like a war zone round here,” he said “I ain’t never seen that many police.”

“We believe that every place that someone loses their lives to violence in this city should be sacred ground,” said Erricka Bridgeford of the Baltimore ceasefire. “We pour light and love into the space.”

“It starts from up top before you can start pointing fingers and blaming others who live in the community here,” said West Baltimore resident Orlando Mayo.

2017 could end up being Baltimore’s deadliest period ever. The City already has more than 300 homicides.

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The violence has hit communities often thought to be immune from heavy crime like Federal Hill and the Inner Harbor where there’s been vicious, random attacks.

“This is worse than Detroit in one way and even worse than Chicago,” a South Baltimore man said.

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“They just don’t understand the pain, terror and hurt that they cause,” said Kia Martin, whose daughter was attacked at the Inner Harbor.

“It is intolerable at this point, so many high-profile crimes,” said Rob Weinhold of the Fallston Group, who is a former public affairs director for the Baltimore Police Department. “You can take someone off the street but you need to keep them off the street. It’s a prosecutorial issue, it’s a judicial issue. The system needs to come together to remove violent repeat offenders from this city and region.”

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has faced heavy criticism.

“Anybody who thinks I don’t take this seriously or that this is not something alarming to me,”Pugh said. “I am deeply disturbed by the violence.”

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The police commissioner has pointed at judges for repeat offenders constantly getting out.

“The reason why we know who they are, is because we lock them up again and again and again,” commissioner Kevin Davis said.

“We will continue this fight and we will continue until we win it,” Pugh said.

Mayor Pugh announced the shortage of officers in the City Wednesday. She said the hiring process has been sped up as much as possible but the City won’t feel the impact until next year.

Organizers of the Baltimore ceasefire say they are planning a ceremony to honor detective Suiter’s life at the scene where he died in West Baltimore.

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Rick Ritter