BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It was a busy year of news in Baltimore, with the resignation of former Mayor Catherine Pugh in the wake of the “Health Holly” scandal, President Donald Trump and the late Rep. Elijah Cummings sparring over whether the city is “rat and rodent infested,” Cummings’ death and city leaders’ efforts to address a rising homicide rate.

Here are the stories that caught the most attention on WJZ.com in 2019.

1. Ravens Fan Can Be Seen Punching Chargers Fan During Fight In Stands

After a tough, season-ending loss to the L.A. Chargers, some Ravens fans didn’t take well to a nearby Chargers fan. Video posted online shows a Ravens fan punch the Chargers fan multiple times until police come to break up the fight.

The video has since been deleted from YouTube and the Twitter user who originally posted it has taken down his account.

2. Celebrity Chef Carl Ruiz Dead At 44, Last Tweets Feature Maryland Eateries

Celebrity chef Carl Ruiz, most known for his Food Network appearances, died suddenly on September 21. The day before his death, he tweeted about visiting Chaps Pit Beef and getting some crab cakes in Harford County.

Carl Ruiz

Officials later said Ruiz died from blocked arteries.

3. Maryland Medical Company Claims To Have Cure For HIV, AIDS

This fall, Rockville-based American Gene Technologies submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a gene therapy it said will eliminate HIV.

The company hopes to start clinical trials in humans in January.

4. Rep. Elijah Cummings’ Baltimore Home Burglarized, Police Say

Hours before the beginning of a running war of words between President Donald Trump and Rep. Elijah Cummings, Baltimore police were investigating a reported break-in at Cummings’ home in the 2400 block of Madison Avenue.

The burglary happened around 3:40 a.m. on July 27. At the time, police said they weren’t sure if any property was taken.

The alleged burglar who broke into Rep. Elijah Cummings’ home.

The president called Cummings’ district, which includes parts of Baltimore and Baltimore and Harford counties, “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested [sic] mess.”

5. Good Samaritan Jacquelyn Smith Killed In ‘Staged’ Attack By Husband, His Daughter Police Say

It was a major twist in the case of the December 1, 2018, murder of 54-year-old Good Samaritan Jacquelyn Smith — her husband and stepdaughter were arrested in her death.

At first, police said Smith was killed while giving money to a panhandler in Baltimore, but later they determined her death was staged. Police arrested her husband Keith and stepdaughter Valeria at the U.S.-Mexico border as they attempted to flee the country.

Jacquelyn Smith

Prosecutors later dropped murder charges against Valeria Smith, 29, who pleaded guilty on September 26 to being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. She faces up to ten years in prison when she’s sentenced in January.

Keith Smith, meanwhile, has had his trial postponed; his defense argued it needed more time to prepare their case.

Online court records show the 53-year-old is set to head to trial on February 4.

6. Ben Carson Booted From Baltimore Church Property; Defends Trump Tweets While Discussing City’s Problems

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson was kicked off a Baltimore church’s property while holding a news conference to talk about federal programs to revitalize the city’s poorest communities.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson holds a news conference in Baltimore on July 31, 2019.

Carson’s visit to Baltimore came just days after President Donald Trump blasted the city and Rep. Elijah Cummings on Twitter, sparking a back-and-forth that drew in multiple state and local leaders, among others.

7. Mayor Jack Young Calls Recent Violent Incidents Involving Teenagers ‘Unacceptable’

In the wake of a brutal attack that left a man hospitalized, a stabbing near the Inner Harbor that left a 14-year-old injured and a shooting outside of an area school, Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young called the wave of violence “unacceptable.”

The mayor touted his office’s work finding jobs for young people in the community as a way to reduce crime but said he can’t solve the problem alone.

In the first incident, a group of 15 juveniles reportedly beat and stomped a man while he was walking just a block from city police headquarters in early November.

The stabbing happened November 11 near the World Trade Center at the Inner Harbor. The 14-year-old victim reportedly got into an altercation with four other teens when he was stabbed.

He ran across the street to the Chick-Fil-A restaurant on Pratt Street for help.

Police said the teens knew each other and had been involved in an incident earlier that day at an area high school.

The shooting also occurred on November 11 near the campus shared by Reginald F. Lewis High School, Success Academy and Achievement Academy. Police said the 19-year-old student was getting out of a vehicle when a masked man approached him and shot him in the leg. The student then ran into the school for help.

8. Dawnta Harris Trial: Ofc. Amy Caprio’s Body Camera Footage Released

Body-worn camera footage showing Baltimore County Police Ofc. Amy Caprio being run over by a stolen Jeep during a May 2018 robbery was entered into evidence during the trial of the driver, Dawnta Harris, on April 26.

Baltimore County Police Ofc. Amy Caprio (left) and Dawnta Harris (right).

Caprio was responding to a burglary call in Perry Hall when she confronted then-16-year-old Harris, who was waiting outside in the Jeep while three other teens burglarized the home.

Harris hit her with the stolen vehicle after she ordered him out of it at gunpoint. Caprio died from major trauma to the head and torso.

In August, a judge sentenced Harris to life in prison with the possibility of parole. He was found guilty on three counts in her death, including felony murder.

The three other teens charged in the case, Darrell Ward, Derrick Matthews and Eugene Genius, pleaded guilty in June. All three were sentenced to 30 years in prison.

9. 2 Killed, Including 7-Year-Old Boy, In 12-Vehicle Crash In Bel Air

A 12-vehicle crash on Route 24 in Bel Air on March 11 left 7-year-old Tripp Johnson of Joppa and 65-year-old Andrew Klein of Forest Hill dead.

Tripp Johnson was killed in a 12-car crash in Bel Air.

Police said a tractor-trailer heading south on Route 24 near Ring Factory Road failed to stop and crashed into several vehicles that had backed up due to traffic. The truck came to a stop and then caught fire with two vehicles pinned underneath it.

Andrew Klein. Courtesy: Klein family

Six people, including Johnson, were taken to area hospitals.

In late August, the tractor-trailer’s driver, Carloo Watson, 49, of Brunswick, New Jersey, was charged with manslaughter in the crash.

Carloo Watson

Online court records show Watson is set to head to trial in late January.

10. 66,300 Marylanders Could Lose Their Driver’s Licenses In June As REAL ID Deadline Looms, MVA Says

A group of more than 66,000 Marylanders with a REAL ID star license issued since 2009 faced a June deadline to replace their IDs due to a failure to provide the needed documents to get their IDs.

The group would still have been licensed drivers but were at risk of having their physical cards confiscated.

A REAL ID-compliant license

MDOT MVA said it had reached out to those affected multiple times since December 2018.

All air travelers will need a REAL ID-compliant license, passport or military ID to fly starting October 1, 2020.


By WJZ Digital Content Producer Logan Reigstad

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