‘We’re going to lead the nation in murders’
Apr 2, 2007
BALTIMORE - Allen Coates, 36, spoke up when he saw a man’s unwanted groping of a woman at a local bar.
For his chivalry, he received 9mm bullet holes throughout his body.
Charles Erdman, 65, simply stopped to exchange information with a driver of a sport utility vehicle after a minor fender bender.
For his responsible act, Erdman was run over and fatally dragged under the SUV.
Steven Washington, 17, who had never been in trouble with the law, made the mistake of getting in an argument on the 1600 block of Clifton Avenue.
For this indiscretion, the teen was fatally shot multiple times in the head, according to police, who have charged two juveniles, ages 15 and 17, in the killing.
And while police have made arrests in Coates’ and Washington’s murders, Erdman’s killers and those of 19 other March homicide victims remain unsolved.
Homicide detectives have made arrests in four of this month’s 24 killings and 15 of this year’s 69 murders.
But homicide Det. Robert Cherry said more cases will begin to go down soon.
“Cases take time,” said Cherry, who is also vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3. “Most of our detectives know who committed the homicides. But it really does the citizens no service locking up someone for a murder, if we haven’t built the case yet. A lot of these cases will start going down in the next couple of months. Would we like to put more down? Absolutely.”
Cherry said some rank-and-file police officers feel they aren’t getting the leadership needed from Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon, who recently criticized the department’s arrest of a 7-year-old boy, Gerard Mungo Jr., for sitting on a dirt bike.
“If the mayor really cared about fighting crime, she wouldn’t be talking about a 7-year-old,” Cherry said. “She’d be talking about the murders. Crime is off the hook again. Crime is up. Murders are up. Shootings are up. When murders and shootings are up, you can rest assured the quality of life for the city goes down. Crime fighting has to be No. 1.”
Baltimore’s 69 homicides have outpaced last year’s 60 at this time. Shootings are up 24 percent compared with 2006.
Former Baltimore Police Commissioner Ed Norris said he hasn’t heard a crime-fighting plan articulated by top city officials as the city’s per capita murder rate increses.
“I don’t think they’re speaking at all about the real issues,” he said. “They haven’t said one word about how we’re going to lead the nation in murders this year. There are a lot of innocent victims this year. It should be spoken about every day what the plan is.”
Dixon spokesman Anthony McCarthy said the mayor shares “the community’s concern with the homicides in Baltimore.”
“She stands with the police,” he said. “We ask them to do an incredibly difficult job every day. The mayor understands the pressure they’re under, and she understands there needs to be renewed trust between the police and the neighborhoods they serve.”
Baltimore NAACP President Marvin “Doc” Cheatham said instead of making foolish arrests — such as Mungo’s and that of his mother, Lakisa Dinkins, for hindering a police investigation — the police department should solve violent crimes.
“Why are you arresting a 7-year-old and a mother?” Cheatham asked. “Why aren’t you out in the street?”
But as much as the police need to be scrutinized, the community needs to step up and examine the killing going on in its midst, Cheatham said.
“The community has to solve this problem,” he said.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has formed a group called BAAAM — Alliance of African-American Men — to mentor boys in Baltimore.
“We’re outraged at the homicides that are taking place,” Cheatham said. “We have consistently been making noise.”
Despite the increase in shootings and homicides, Baltimore police track a 17 percent drop in violent crime this year, driven mainly by a 17 percent cut in robberies and a 18 percent dip in aggravated assaults.
Police have implemented some new strategies to combat the violence, including shifting 23 officers to the Eastern District’s Oliver Community, which saw a spike in shootings, and designating the Poplar Grove Corridor of the Southwestern District to receive 27 police surveillance cameras.
The police department also has expanded its use of Community Stabilization Units — the foot patrols conducted by new officers — to the Monument Street Corridor.
Neighborhoods in which the new uniformed officers walk the beat have seen almost no incidents of violent crime, statistics show.
Baltimore Police Spokesman Matt Jablow said the department may expand the program even further. “There’s nothing quite like having an officer on foot in the community.”
BY THE NUMBERS
» March homicide total: 24
» March homicides solved: 4
» 2007 homicide total: 69
» 2007 homicides solved: 15
» Youngest victim injured: During March’s unsolved murder of a paralyzed man, a gunman shot a 5-year-old boy in the foot.
» Homicide comparisons: New York City reported 84 through March 25; Philadelphia, 100 through March 31; D.C., 38 through March 30
March’s homicide victims in Baltimore City
» March 3: Thomas Alexander, 19, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 3: Charles Erdman, 65, of Baltimore, automobile
» March 4: Anthony Brown, 20, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 5: Michael Woods, 28, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 6: Richard Stuckey, 17, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 9: Anthony Bryan, 37, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 10: Allen Coates, 36, of Baltimore, shooting *
» March 11: Damon Smith, 40, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 12: Mark Robinson, 48, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 13: Tyrone Jackson Jr., 19, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 13: Steven Washington, 17, of Baltimore, shooting *
» March 13: Christopher Clarke, 18, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 13: Antwan Askins, 27, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 14: Michael Stuckey, 49, of Baltimore, stabbing *
» March 17: Edwin Mathews, 30, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 17: Rodney Dewitt, 21, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 20: Ricardo Paige, 54, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 20: Charles Hargrove, 19, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 21: Shawn Weaver, 17, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 26: Theresa Parker, 39, of Baltimore, blunt force trauma
» March 27: Artesha Moses, 18, of Baltimore, stabbing *
» March 27: Ronald Harmon, 17, of Baltimore, shooting
» March 30: Victim not yet identified, shooting
» March 30: Pelvin Derrien, 23, of Baltimore, shooting
* Resulted in arrest or warrant
SUSPECTS FACING TRIAL
» Lamont Harrell, 22, of Baltimore, is charged with first-degree murder in the March 10 shooting death of Allen Coates inside Maceo’s Lounge. Case closed by Det. Robert Ross.
» Tevin Moultrie, 15, and Maurice Wilkerson, 17, both of Baltimore, are charged with the March 13 shooting death of 17-year-old Steven Washington, who had no arrest record. Case closed by Dets. Bryan Kershaw and Steven Mahan.
» Robin Weaver, 50, of Baltimore, is charged with fatally stabbing Michael Stuckey during a March 14 domestic dispute. Weaver told police Stuckey punched her in the face and she had to defend herself. Case closed by Det. Sean Jones.
» James Summerville, 18, of Baltimore, is charged with first-degree murder, accused of stabbing his girlfriend, Artesha Moses, 18, in the chest after a heated argument. Case closed by Det. Kirk Hastings.