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Four murders follow fake panhandler killing

Spike in homicides in East Baltimore
Posted at 7:21 PM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 19:21:30-05

A fatal stabbing cost Keith Smith's wife her life after giving cash to a beggar to feed her baby in East Baltimore.

“She was just everything to me—-my everything,” Smith told reporters as he stood at the corner where it occurred.

And following Jacquelyn Smith's murder, four more would follow over a 72-hour period within a matter of city blocks.

Later that same day on Saturday, someone gunned down a pair of 18-year-olds in the 2400 block of Brentwood Avenue and two days later, two more men died in the 1100 block of East Preston Street—-both in their twenties and both from gunshot wounds to the head.

Eight blocks from the Smith murder, someone shot a man in the face that same day and survived, but as Derrick Brown eyes a security job near East Lafayette Street where it happened, he couldn't help, but ask about the multiple makeshift memorials on its sidewalks.

“Just to hear about six murders in the last month, even if they're true or false, that's a bit scary—-knowing that you're just walking around doing your job and you have to have a bulletproof vest on,” said Brown.

It is a price the city is paying for its murderous reputation, and Congressman Elijah Cummings says reducing the homicide rate is one of his top priorities in the new year.

“I want people when they come to this city to feel welcomed.  I do not want them to have one second of fear,” said Cummings, “We get tired of the vigils... seeing the balloons.  They even talk about the balloons on Capitol Hill.  They call them fresh balloons.”

And they've left Derrick Brown wondering if a job in East Baltimore is any safer than the one he would have to leave behind in one of Washington D.C.'s most violent neighborhoods.

“Ward 8.  You know what I'm saying?  But it's not as bad as it seems now,” said Brown, “When I first got there, there were probably a few shootings, but now I was feet from a drive-by, so now it's better.  The neighborhood is getting better.  They beefed up security and made it a whole lot better.”