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Weekend gun violence leaves 5 dead in Baltimore

Authorities say 12 people were shot, five of them fatally, in eight separate shootings Saturday in Baltimore as the city struggles with a rise in homicides. Police commissioner Michael Harrison called the violence "deeply disturbing and deeply troubling."

"Our detectives have been working through the night to identify those responsible and bring them to justice," Harrison said Sunday.

The first of Saturday's shootings was reported at about 2:30 a.m. and involved three female victims, all found with apparent gunshot wounds in a car in a northeastern section of the city. One victim, a 28-year-old woman, died shortly after arriving at a hospital.

Harrison said the shooting appears to have stemmed from an argument at a nearby club. He said the women had just left the club and were in a vehicle stopped at a traffic light when someone in another car opened fire. He said police have identified a person of interest wanted for questioning.

A few hours later, police responding to a shooting in southeast Baltimore found a 46-year-old man with a gunshot wound to the leg. Then, another shooting victim, a 40-year-old man, walked into a hospital seeking treatment for a gunshot wound to his leg.

Saturday afternoon, shortly after 2:30 p.m., police found a man fatally shot lying in a street in southeast Baltimore. Using surveillance video and citizen tips, police have identified a person of interest wanted for questioning, Harrison said. 

That was followed less than half an hour later by a shooting in central Baltimore that left a 37-year-old man wounded. 

A 38-year-old man was found with a gunshot wound around 7 p.m. Saturday in northeast Baltimore.

Around 8 p.m., officers found a 37-year-old man suffering from multiple gunshot wounds in a Mercedes-Benz that had crashed in northeast Baltimore, Harrison said. The vehicle was riddled with bullets, reports the Baltimore Sun. The man was  transported to a hospital, where he died. Police haven't yet identified a suspect or a motive, and are still working to determine the original location of the shooting, Harrison said.

Around the same time, police responded to a report of a shooting in West Baltimore, but didn't find any victims, Harrison said. They later determined that two men suffering from gunshot wounds had been transported by car to a nearby hospital, where one of them died. Police later determined the victims had been standing in front of a grocery store when unknown suspects came out of an alleyway and opened fire. So far, there have been no arrests in that case.

Finally, shortly before 11 p.m., officers found a 24-year-old man shot dead in northwest Baltimore.

Harrison said there is no indication the shootings are connected. 

According to the Baltimore Sun, the violence continued into Sunday. Two men, 20 and 21, were wounded in a shooting in West Baltimore Sunday evening, the paper reports. Police also responded to the report of a gunshot victim walking in to a hospital for treatment on Sunday, but it's not clear whether that was related to one of the Saturday shootings.

The city recorded 348 homicides in 2019,  up from 309 the previous year, according to Baltimore police. 2019 was the fifth consecutive year that the city, with a population of less than 620,000, has seen more than 300 murders, and was the most violent year ever on a per-capita basis. By comparison, New York, a city of 8.6 million, ended 2019 with 318 murders. 

City council president Brandon Scott, a Democrat running for mayor, issued a statement Sunday condemning the violence.

"A day that should have been met with pride and community was once again flooded with violence and loss," Scott wrote, an apparent reference to an NFL divisional playoff game hosted by the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night.

"This violence is heartbreaking and must stop now," added Scott, who said he plans to question Baltimore's police commissioner and other agency heads about what they were doing in the affected communities before and after the shootings.

Harrison said Sunday that the department is re-deploying SWAT, K-9 and traffic units to the affected areas as well as enhancing high-visibility foot patrols, which he said the department has been emphasizing for months. 

Last week, Harrison said the department had made seven arrests of people wanted in recent murder cases, including a suspect in the killing of a 36-year-old mother shot dead in front of her children at the store where she worked last month. He said the department had made "significant progress" in closing homicide cases, reports CBS Baltimore.

"To the credit of the Baltimore City Police Department, they have made some arrests on some of the murders, and that's to show the public that we are serious about bringing those responsible for those murders to justice," Mayor Jack Young told reporters Monday. 

Young called the violence "unacceptable" and asked the community to come forward with information to help solve the crimes.

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