BALTIMORE (WJZ) — During a press conference in Baltimore, Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave no definitive answer on whether the FBI would take over the investigation into the death of Baltimore City Police Detective Sean Suiter, who was shot in the head almost one month ago while on duty. No suspect has been named.
“We are always willing to cooperate as well as we can, and I’m sure the FBI will be considering that request and will probably be able to act on it,” Sessions told reporters at the U. S. Attorney’s Office downtown.
The Attorney General also turned to crime.
“Over the last two years, this city in particular has experienced violence like we haven’t seen in nearly a quarter of a century. The violent crime rate is up nearly one-third. Rape is up by 22 percent. Murder is up by half. Baltimore has a higher murder rate and a higher violent crime rate than Chicago with less than a quarter of the population,” he said.
Sessions spoke about scandals in the police department, where nine officers face federal charges in the Broken Boundaries corruption investigation, accused of stealing from citizens and trying to cover it up.
“The crime rate should not have increased here the way that it has. We have got to be very careful when we have a problem in the police department that we target the people who did wrong and not demean the morale and quality and integrity of the entire department,” said Sessions. “You can trace the surge in violence in the city to the riots and some of the reactions that occurred afterwards, and I am so hopeful that we can learn from that mistake and in the future do a better job of protecting the public safety of often the poorest of people.”
But some took issue with Sessions, including Dale Hargrave, who held a sign in protest outside. “Its unfortunate that we have this crime wave, but the majority of the folks in the city are not involved.’ he said.
David Troy also protested outside the event today. “This Administration is really making an effort to subvert the rule of law, and I think its important people stand up and express dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs.” he said. “I thought it was important to come down this morning and speak out against Jeff Sessions.”
Sessions also talked about immigration and the El Salvadoran gang MS-13, which is behind recent violent acts in Anne Arundel and Montgomery Counties.
“MS-13 is one of the most dangerous gangs in America,” Sessions told reporters in prepared remarks. “In January, a 15-year old girl from near here in Gaithersburg was stabbed 13 times with knives and a wooden stake by MS-13 members. Her killers filmed the murder so they could show their leaders back in El Salvador.”
Sessions said lax immigration enforcement is a threat to national security, referencing two recent terror attacks in New York City. “The President is exactly right to call attention to these issues and to how they affect our security,” Sessions said.
Lydia Walther-Rodriguez with CASA believes that’s all a smokescreen to demonize immigrants. She told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren, “We know that this is a trick that Sessions is using to continue to push Trump’s agenda and terrorize and categorize immigrant community members as criminals, and we know that its not so.”
She spoke about immigration raids in Baltimore. “There’s a lot of ICE officers knocking on doors in Baltimore City, of our community members that have not committed any crimes. We know this is a trick that he is using to continue to push the hateful agenda and continue to separate families and people of color here in the immigrant communities of Baltimore.”
Sessions spoke for roughly 30 minutes and was joined by newly-sworn Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who also highlighted the dangers of MS-13.