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Baltimore Named Nation's Most Dangerous City By USA Today

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- USA Today has named Baltimore the most dangerous city in the country.

The paper analyzed police crime data in the nation's 50 biggest cities, which revealed Baltimore had the highest per capita murder rate in the nation with nearly 56 murders per 100,000 people -- a record for the city. The rate outpaced New Orleans and Detroit, with a rate of 40 and 39 killings per 100,000 people, respectively.

Baltimore's 342 murders in 2017 was an increase from 318 in 2016.

Baltimore -- the most populated city in Maryland with more than 615,000 residents -- had more homicides last year than Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York City.

Philadelphia, with 1.5 million people, tallied 317 killings; New York, a city of 8.5 million, had 290 murders; and Los Angeles, with 4 million residents, recorded 286 homicides, according to USA Today.

Baltimore has seen a decline in homicides so far this year. Through Monday, 32 people had been killed, compared to 47 killed at the same time last year.

The latest murder came Monday night when two masked men walked into a barber shop near Patterson Park and shot two people, one of them fatally.

The incident occurred in the 3200 block of Eastern Avenue, where police found a 35-year-old man suffering from a gunshot wound. He was taken to an area hospital where he later died.

"Two suspects on the street right now that we are trying to get a hold of that are responsible for this," said Baltimore Police spokesperson T.J. Smith.

Councilman Kristefer Burnett says the city's image could affect tourism, and residents could pack up and leave.

"It was definitely heartbreaking," he said. "We have a lot to offer, but when the narrative is so much violence and that is the reality, there is so much violence, it becomes very difficult to control that."

But some residents say Baltimore's new title doesn't fit.

"I've been in Baltimore my whole life and I don't feel like I am in danger every day," said Tameka Cottman.

Baltimoreans want the world to look beyond a headline and see its charm.

"It's a shame when people who don't come in the city and don't experience the city, don't have relationships here want to make comments about it," said Rachel Cybor.

Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh fired Police Commissioner Kevin Davis last month and replaced him with department veteran Darryl De Sousa. The city's police department says it has been more aggressive with stopping criminals, and since December, they've arrested more than 300 people for warrant and gun violations. The department says there has also been an increased focus on police visibility.

Baltimore went nearly two weeks without a homicide earlier this month. The 12-day murder-free streak, which began with a ceasefire weekend, was a milestone that hadn't been seen in years.

The FBI is expected to publish its annual comprehensive crime report later this year.

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