By Mike Hellgren


BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore recorded the city’s 300th murder Thursday morning after a man and woman were shot in the southwest part of the city. Crews washed the blood off the pavement in front of a convenience store. 

A Shot Spotter device across the street alerted authorities to the gunfire.

“We have got to stick together and stop killing each other,” said Michelle Long, who lives nearby and has also been a victim of gun violence. Long said she no longer feels safe.

Police later identified the victims as 22-year-old Ayranna James and 21-year-old Courtney Richardson.

This is the fifth year in a row Baltimore has seen 300 killings.

 

There were 309 murders in 2018. In two recent years — 2015 and 2017 — Baltimore recorded 342 killings.

 

WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren spoke to several people who heard the gunshots just before 3 a.m. on South Monroe and McHenry Streets.

 

“It’s so scary, you can’t even go outside,” said Carolyn Epps who lives near the crime scene.

 

A man was taken to Shock Trauma where he was pronounced dead. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Two children, ages 1 and 2 were shot a block away in May.

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The city did not record its 300th murder last year until December 20th. The number of non-fatal shootings is also up year-to-date and stands at 692.

Commissioner Michael Harrison declined to speak or answer questions on camera about the violence and instead issued a statement to WJZ where he asked for the community’s help to stop the killings.

Many in this neighborhood are frustrated with the city’s response to the killings — and were particularly upset at Mayor Jack Young’s comments the day before.

“It’s not any lack of leadership on my part. I’ve been moving this city forward,” Mayor Young said Wednesday. “I’m not committing the murders. And that’s what people need to understand. I’m not committing the murders. The police commissioner is not committing it. The council is not committing it. So how can you fault leadership? You know this has been five years of 300-plus murders, and I don’t see it as a lack of leadership.”

 

Mayor Young was responding to comments from John Hoey, the CEO of the Y of Central Maryland, who said there was a “crisis of leadership.” 

 

Hoey told Hellgren he was devastated over the murder of a longtime coach at the Y’s Catonsville branch. Jordan Taylor was shot during a home invasion in Gwynn Oak. He was buried Thursday, and the case remains unsolved.

‘I’m Not Committing The Murders’ | Baltimore Mayor Jack Young Says Leadership Not To Blame As City Approaches 300 Homicides

Mayor Young’s team later issued a statement that he is taking responsibility for making the city safer. Those running against Young for mayor were sharply critical.

“Nobody has a plan. There’s no sense of urgency,” said Thiru Vignarajah. “Our city leaders are throwing up their hands and saying they’re not committing the murders. It’s embarrassing. It’s insulting.”

 

City Council President and mayoral candidate Brandon Scott called on Young to present his own crime strategy and not just rely on the commissioner’s crime reduction plan introduced in July.

 

“As elected leaders we must first and foremost understand that we cannot shake our responsibility,” Scott said.

 

Former police spokesman T.J. Smith, who is also running for mayor, said, “To be so dismissive that, ‘It ain’t my problem. It ain’t my fault.’ It’s hurtful.” 

 

Smith’s own brother was murdered two years ago. 

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Baltimore’s Archdiocese said in a statement, “As the city marks this grim milestone, we pray for the victims of these violent crimes and that God will bring peace and healing to Baltimore.”

 

Anyone with information about the recent killings can call Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-Lockup.

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