Baltimore Gets Bloodier as Arrests Drop Post-Freddie Gray

Baltimore Gets Bloodier as Arrests Drop Post-Freddie Gray
Fri May 29, 2015 18:18:47

A 31-year-old woman and a young boy were shot in the head on Thursday, becoming Baltimore's 37th and 38th homicide victims so far this month, the city's deadliest in 15 years.

The most recent killings claimed the lives of Jennifer Jeffrey and her 7-year-old son, Kester Anthony Browne. They were identified by Jeffrey's sister, Danielle Wilder, Yahoo News reported.

Jeffrey and her son were found dead early Thursday, each from gunshot wounds to the head.

As family members cried and held each other on the quiet, leafy block in Southwest Baltimore where they lived, Wilder said she felt as if "my heart has been ripped out."

Wilder said a neighbor called their other sister early Thursday, concerned that she hadn't heard any noise coming from Jeffrey's house: no footsteps, Wilder said, no voices, and no gunshots. But when her brother let himself into the house to check on the mother and son, he discovered their bodies.

"She was in the living room," Wilder said. "The baby was upstairs, in the bed."

Wilder said police told her there were no signs of forced entry, and that whoever killed Jeffrey and Browne were let into the house sometime yesterday. Wilder said Jeffrey also lived with her niece and grand-niece. Wilder said she believed that whoever killed Jeffrey wanted to catch her alone, and that the boy was collateral damage.

Thursday's deaths continue a grisly and dramatic uptick in homicides across Baltimore that has so far claimed the lives of 38 people.

Arrests were already declining before Freddie Gray died on April 19 of injuries he suffered in police custody, but they dropped sharply thereafter, as his death unleashed protests, riots, the criminal indictment of six officers and a full-on civil rights investigation by the U.S. Justice Department that has officers working under close scrutiny.

"I'm afraid to go outside," said Antoinette Perrine, whose brother was shot down three weeks ago on a basketball court near her home in the Harlem Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. Ever since, she has barricaded her door and added metal slabs inside her windows to deflect gunfire.

"It's so bad, people are afraid to let their kids outside," Perrine said. "People wake up with shots through their windows. Police used to sit on every corner, on the top of the block. These days? They're nowhere."

West Baltimore residents worry they've been abandoned by the officers they once accused of harassing them, leaving some neighborhoods like the Wild West without a lawman around.

"Before it was over-policing. Now there's no police," said Donnail "Dreads" Lee, 34, who lives in the Gilmor Homes, the public housing complex where Gray, 25, was chased down. "People feel as though they can do things and get away with it. I see people walking with guns almost every single day, because they know the police aren't pulling them up like they used to."

Baltimore was seeing a slight rise in homicides this year even before Gray's death April 19. But the 38 homicides so far in May is a major spike, after 22 in April, 15 in March, 13 in February and 23 in January.

With one weekend still to go, May 2015 is already the deadliest month in 15 years, surpassing the November 1999 total of 36.

Ten of May's homicides happened in the Western District, which has had as many homicides in the first five months of this year as it did all of last year.

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