By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City police arrest a suspect who they believe murdered popular anti-violence advocate, Dante Barksdale.

Barksdale was gunned down in Baltimore’s Douglass Homes in January. Police announced on Thursday that they arrested 28-year-old Garrick Powell and charged him with first-degree murder.  Officials did not announce a motive.

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Police said the suspect has a long criminal history.

“The investigation continues, it is ongoing as we speak. The investigation does not end with the arrest today,” said Michael Sullivan, Deputy Commissioner of Operations of the Baltimore Police Department.

Authorities said Powell had numerous contacts with the court system. Officials confirmed that he was charged with murder in 2012 but the history no longer appears on the state’s court website.

Powell has cases listed in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County. Officials said they arrested Powell in East Baltimore with no incident.

“It knocked the wind out of me. It took a minute before I got to the oh yay because it just reminded me that my friend had been killed,” said Erricka Bridgeford, the co-founder of Baltimore Cease-Fire 365 who knew Barksdale personally.

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Barksdale, who was no stranger to a life of crime, turned things around and became a founding member of Safe Streets. His mission was to stop the cycle of violence in the City. The Mayor said this case is personal for him.

“This is very personal for me. As you know Dante was my friend, like all of us he was far from perfect but he was called for a perfect mission for his life,” said Mayor Brandon Scott.

“Dante embodied a mess

Garrick Powell mug shot. Credit: BPD

age of redemption and peace, and used his own experience as a living testimony for young people to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence,” Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said. “I look forward to working with the State’s Attorney Office to ensure justice is served, and I remain committed to partnering with Mayor Scott and all of our communities to tackle gun violence in Baltimore.”

The Deputy Commissioner of Operations said investigators had interviews with witnesses, family members and even video and that helped them to find and arrest this suspect.

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“The identification of a suspect in Dante’s murder leaves MONSE and the Safe Streets family with mixed feelings – sadness about the conditions that result in conflicts leading to murder, and relief that old wounds can finally heal,” said Shantay Jackson, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. “We must continue to approach public safety through a public health lens and help young people find emotionally and behaviorally safe ways to address conflict.”

Ava-joye Burnett