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Rising Tide

Baltimore's 2009 homicide toll goes against national trends by going up

By Anna Ditkoff | Posted 1/20/2010

Illustrations by Jennifer Daniel

Baltimore City reported four more homicides in 2009 than in 2008--238 vs. 234. It wasn't a big increase, especially for a city used to numbers closer to 300. Still, it affected every corner of the city. There were a few positive trends--fewer children were murdered, there were fewer domestic-violence homicides--as well as some negative ones--almost twice as many people over 50 were murdered, and the Baltimore Police Department's official tally indicates that the number of robbery/homicides nearly doubled, from 8 in 2008 to 13 in 2009 (the motives for 182 murders were listed as "unknown"). And 2008, that year we crow about as having the fewest homicides in the city since the '80s? Well, it turns out that our best year isn't so great. In 2008, we ranked behind only Detroit in per capita homicides for cities our size. Four more in 2009 isn't going to help Baltimore lose its title as the second most murderous city with a population over 500,000 in the country. The following is a look at the statistics behind 2009's homicide total--the numbers for what passes for a good year in Baltimore City.

Homicide Victims by Race

The number of Caucasians and Hispanics murdered has risen over the last three years. In 2007, 14 Caucasians and four Hispanics were murdered, while 2008 saw 15 Caucasians and six Hispanics killed. But African-Americans continue to make up the vast majority of homicide victims--88 percent, despite only accounting for 63 percent of the city's population.

Homicide Victims by Age

The number of people over 30 murdered rose in 2009. This demographic made up 32 percent of 2008 homicides. It made up 43 percent in 2009. On the other hand, the number of minors murdered dropped from 11 percent of victims in 2008 to 6 percent in 2009.

Homicides by Police District and Neighborhood

For the first time since City Paper started collecting data for this column in 2004, the Northeastern police district was the most murderous in the city. The Northwestern saw the biggest decline, with 16 fewer homicides in 2009 than in 2008.

Homicides by Method

Shootings continue to be the dominant method of murder in Baltimore City--82 percent of 2009 homicides.

Rising Tide: Baltimore's 2009 homicide toll goes against national trends by going up

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