The moment a toddler was pulled from a baking hot car by police an hour after her father was shot dead in front of her in Baltimore has become a symbol of the record-breaking homicide rates in the city this year.
Ernest Solomon, 26, was sprayed with bullets outside his car on March 27 in front of a busy carryout in West Baltimore and died soon after being taken to hospital.
In a bid not to contaminate the scene and inadvertently tamper with potential evidence police did not open Solomon’s car immediately after the incident.
‘The windows were tinted very dark when they looked inside the vehicle they discovered a baby, a little girl, who looked to be at least a year or less was in a car seat inside of that vehicle,’ Baltimore police spokesman Detective Donnie Moses told WBAL.
The 10-month-old baby, wearing a pink and white onesie under a black sweatsuit, was pulled from the car as onlookers and police watched on with their mouths agape.
Police are not sure how long the victim or the child had been there before the shooting but reports suggest officers were first called to the scene about 1:15pm but the unnamed baby was pulled out at around 2:45pm.
The girl, who was in a car seat, was taken to a local hospital as a precaution, but appeared to be fine and reunited with her family a day later.
The spokesman said police did not make a mistake in not opening and searching the car sooner.
‘Who would think that a baby would be in that car in the middle of a shooting scene?’ he said.
The shooting, for which no arrests have been made, marked Baltimore’s 76th homicide of 2017 but since a further 48 have been slain suggesting the city will surpass all previous yearly murder records.
As of Friday 124 people had been killed in the city this year, including five in one bloody day on May 6, the deadliest of the year so far.
Baltimore has not seen 100 homicides before the end of April since 1998 however violence spiked once again in the spring of 2015, following civil unrest prompted by the death Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old, who was arrested for carrying a switch blade, died from spinal cord injuries six days after he was heavily arrested by police.
That year was Baltimore’s deadliest per capita in the city’s history with 344 murders. The next year, marked its second highest, with 318 deaths.
This year, it is on track to beat both records and surpass all other big U.S. cities. The 124 slayings in Baltimore, with a population of 614,000, bring the homicide rate to 20.2 per 100,000 residents, reports the Washington Post.
The Maryland city went a decade with 300 or more killings each year in the 1990s before the numbers finally began falling in 2000.
The current 2017 statistics suggest the city currently has triple Washington’s rate and higher than the homicide rates in New Orleans and Chicago, two places that have become national symbols of gun violence.
Despite the surge in violence the city is operating with hundreds of fewer officers than at any point over the past decade, the police force has shrunk in the past several years, from 2,900 officers to 2,700.
In January, the police union president Lt. Gene Ryan, in an interview with CBS Baltimore, called staffing levels dangerous.
‘You get in a crisis mode like we’re in right now with crime out of control and not enough uniformed officers on the street, I would say it’s at a crisis point.’
Source: Michael Baisden