As of last weekend, there are now 294 recorded homicides in Baltimore this year, up from the 211 murdered during all of 2014.
The weekend brought three men killed on Saturday and two on Sunday, the Baltimore Police Department reports.
The Baltimore PD also reported that two men were killed in a single incident on Saturday, when they were found dead on the street just before 3AM in the 3200 block of Chesterfield Ave. in the in Belair-Edison neighborhood.
With the death toll in the city now at 294, this year’s violence has set the city on the road to easily outpace the 300 murdered in the city in 1999, making 2015 one of the most violent years in the city’s history.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, the latest to be appointed to the troubled position, claimed that the higher murder rate results from opportunistic gang attacks. “There is an idea somewhere out on the street that this amount of violence is perhaps an ideal or opportune time for someone with a score to settle to take advantage of this time and settle that score,” Davis said.
Davis was appointed to head the BPD after Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts in July.
As the Baltimore Sun reports, by the end of October, homicides were up 55 percent over year last, and nonfatal shootings were up 76 percent.
This is a great reversal of recent trends, as only a few years ago, Baltimore was celebrating a steadily falling murder rate. In 2011, for instance, the city had less than 200 murders for the first time since 1978.
Crime and murder rates have exploded since the riots over the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody earlier this year.
But the murders are not random. Despite that some shootings still occur in the commission of robberies and other crimes, the largest number of shootings are gang related.
“There is no randomness associated with these murders,” Commissioner Davis said. “They’re gang related, they’re retaliatory in nature, and they center around drug disputes. And unfortunately, where there are drugs, there’s money, and where there is money, there are guns.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.