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Baltimore Gets 300th Homocide

December 22, 1998

BALTIMORE (AP) _ A fatal early-morning shooting pushed Baltimore’s 1998 homicide rate above 300, despite an all-out police blitz that flooded city streets with officers.

The homicide count stood at 299 until Monday morning, when officers responded to a shooting and found a man bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds. He later died at a hospital.

The shooting came despite orders by Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier to keep an extra deployment of officers on the streets, said police spokesman Rob Weinhold.

``The number 300 is not a self-imposed number by the Baltimore Police Department,″ he said. ``The number 300 is a benchmark which people have used through the years. The department feels that whether there’s one homicide or 300 homicides, there’s one too many.″

The last time Baltimore had fewer than 300 killings was 1989. This year’s rate works out to about 43 killings per 100,000 residents, ranking the city behind only Gary, Ind., New Orleans and Detroit for the highest murder rate. Last year, there were 310 slayings.

Detectives think a decomposed body found in a field Monday may be No. 301. ``The manner in which he was found indicates it may be a murder,″ Anderson said. The medical examiner’s office is conducting an autopsy.

Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke announced earlier this month that keeping a lid on the murder rate was a major priority. Schmoke said the 300-murder threshold was a symbolic one he did not want to cross again.

The police department pulled officers from desk jobs and called them in on overtime to help stem the murder rate. Many of the department’s administrative functions had temporarily ground to a halt while police worked the streets.

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