During the week of the one-year anniversary of the riots and unrest, Baltimore has seen a high-profile spike in violence.
One of the most shocking crimes was a shooting on the 3200 block of E. Baltimore St. on the evening of Tuesday, April 26th when 26-year-old Asia Brockington was gunned down.
Brockington, a Patterson Park resident, was taking the trash outside when the suspect emerged from the alley and shot Brockington in the back.
Captain George Clinedinst of the SEPD was hesitant to reveal too many details about the still-open case, but he did say that the shooting was not a random act.
“There was a lot involved in that that goes way, way back,” he said about the incident.
The police have one person of interest that they believe is a strong potential suspect.
That same night, there were two other murders in the city.
Clinedinst said that robberies are up in the 28 day period, as is typical when the weather begins to warm up. He added that the SEPD is ramping up and readjusting their robbery units to address this increase, as well as targeting certain areas where crimes seem to happen most frequently. The SEPD is also investing more overtime hours into robbery investigations.
“We’re pulling out all the stops that we can and what’s available to us.”
Clinedinst explained that the victims of these crimes are usually females who are walking alone. He reiterates the importance of alertness and said that suspects target victims who are distracted and using their phone.
“The bottom line is I think as a community, we need to be more aware of our surroundings.”
Along with robberies, the number of reported carjackings have increased all across the city as well. According to Clinedinst, a pattern they’re seeing is the ‘bump and rob’, where the suspects will purposely hit a car and then steal the vehicle once the victim is distracted and out of the car. These robberies are occurring all over the district at all times of the day.
He said that police have identified the suspects as a “quasi-organized little clique” that commit these carjackings across the city. Clinedinst said the SEPD is working with the other departments downtown in order to “cultivate information” on this group.
The carjackings have become more distressing since several recent cases involve the suspects driving off with the victim’s children still in the backseat.
For example, on Sunday, May 1, a woman was placing her children in her car, located on the 400 block of N. Highland St., when she was pushed out of the way and had her car stolen by two suspects.
Her young son was in the back seat of the car and the suspects abandoned him, and the victim’s car, two blocks away.
These, naturally, are treated differently than normal carjackings, since the police have to change their tactics in order to guarantee the child’s safety above all else, said Clinedinst.
Larceny from vehicles has also seen an increase, especially in the Patterson Park and Eastern Ave. areas.
He warned residents against leaving their cars running and encouraged them to double-check that all their doors are locked. He pointed out trends in these burglaries, like suspects stealing tool boxes from work trucks. In general, doors should remain locked and valuables should be taken inside instead of remaining visible inside your car, which makes you an easy target.
“The suspects watch us like we watch them. They know where we park,” Clinedinst explained. “We’re in a mad rush to get inside our house, we have groceries in our hands. What they will do is they will take a piece of metal or a stick and they will go to your passenger side after you’re already in the house and put that object under your door handle.”
The wedged object prevents the car’s locking mechanism from working.
“You hit the key fob and it goes beep beep, but it’s unlocked that entire time,” he said.
He stressed the importance of securing your air conditioners now that the weather is heating up. Many burglaries happen when criminals push in air conditioners and gain entry to the location through the window.
Clinedinst addressed the police-involved shooting on Wednesday, April 27, the one-year anniversary of Freddie Gray’s funeral, where a 13-year-old carrying a replica toy gun was shot when the plain-clothes officer thought the gun was real. The boy’s injuries are non-life threatening, said Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis.
“Bottom line is, it’s a very unfortunate incident. It’s a danger that the citizens put themselves in and it’s also a danger that we have to deal with as police officers, because at the end of the day, we want to go home to our families and we can’t take that chance,” said Clinedinst about the case.
The police department is currently instructing a new class of recruits with new training methods that include LGBT training and lessons on the history of Baltimore.
“If our officers know those things, they’re better educated to talk to the citizens, we see complaints go down, use of force goes down, calls for service goes down and there’s a better understanding and knowledge between the officers and the citizens,” said Clinedinst who mentioned that when he was a recruit, he had to teach himself about the city. “We turned the tide a little bit when it comes to that, in terms of recognizing how we can get in front of some of these issues and prevent them from happening.”
By Gianna DeCarlo