Council meeting held after spike of murders

BALTIMORE -  

Amid a spike in murder in West Baltimore, City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts testified before a City Council Committee here tonight -- saying in most parts of the city overall crime is down.

Tuesday morning, two women and a man killed in the second-floor apartment in a building in 2200 block of Fulton Avenue.

There's no sign of a break-in; police have no suspects.

"We're looking at the backgrounds of the victims, the background of the house itself, but at this time we just don't have a tremendous amount of information," said Deputy Commissioner John Skinner, in a news conference at the scene of the murder.

The victims were the 43rd, 44th and 45th murders of 2013 in Baltimore City; another shooting Tuesday night added a 46th victim to the list.

This time last year, there had been 33 murders.

The bulk of this year's violence has been in the Western District.

"The Western is not a surprise. The Western has traditionally in this city has been problematic," Commissioner Batts said during the City Council hearing.

Members of the council wanted to know how the commissioner is fighting back; he said extra resources are being diverted to West Baltimore.

Police are also serving more warrants than in past years and increasing their focus on intelligence-gathering.

"We are seeing longer spans of stability in our neighborhoods punctuated by random spikes," Batts said.

Civil rights activist Dr. Helena Hicks also testified at the hearing...

"You don't build anything from the top down you build a house from the foundation up, and your foundation is the neighborhoods," she said.

She says officers need to be meeting with young people, at basketball games, events, even fast foot places -- anywhere they can either connect with them, or find out what they're up to.

"You have to find ways to get in there and find out what's going on," Hicks said.

The victims of the triple murder have been identified as Brian Powell, 21, Kishawana Pinder, 20, and Tyreka Martin, also 20.

The most recent murder, from Tuesday evening, was on Wilson Street in Bolton Hill -- that's about one mile away from the home on Fulton Avenue where the triple-shooting happened.

One man was shot and killed; his name has not been released.

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