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Baltimore residents gripped by recent violence: ‘I don’t really feel safe anywhere anymore’

Baltimore residents gripped by recent violence: ‘I don’t really feel safe anywhere anymore’

THE BALTIMORE SUN – JEAN MARBELLA

Sitting in the hair salon she has owned for 27 years, Pamela Coleman was saying she hasn’t been a victim of crime herself. Then she quickly knocked on the nearest piece of wood — to avoid jinxing not only herself, but also her city.

“I’m not going to say we’ve hit bottom,” said Coleman, the 52-year-old owner of X-Cetra Salon in the Hamilton neighborhood of Northeast Baltimore. “But we’re not far from the bottom.

“I think it’s the worst I’ve ever seen, and I have been living in Baltimore my entire life. I don’t really feel safe anywhere anymore.”

Even in a city where crime seems like a chronic rather than an episodic disease, the recent string of killings, shootings and robberies has felt qualitatively different. Mayor Catherine Pugh says the violence is out of control. Three years into a historic spike in killing, it’s not clear that anyone has any idea how to curtail it. In conversations private and public, in neighborhood gathering spaces and on social media, fear is rising.

On Wednesday, Baltimore showed it still had the capacity to shock, in the fatal shooting of police Detective Sean Suiter. The 18-year veteran, who joined the homicide unit in 2015, as the violence began rising, was investigating one of last year’s 318 killings. He became this year’s 309th. The shooter remained at large, even as police descended on the Harlem Park neighborhood, shut down streets and banged on doors in search of the suspect or evidence that would lead to him.

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