Baltimore sees second deadliest year on record in 2019, homicide clearance rate under 40 percent

The escalating violence in Baltimore in 2019 resulted in Charm City recording its second deadliest year on record, as officials announced Tuesday another victim to add to a grim homicide count.

The Baltimore Police Department announced on New Year's Eve that a 25-year-old man who was shot on Dec. 18 had died, in what may be Baltimore's final homicide of the year.

At least 348 homicides were reported throughout the year, according to The Baltimore Sun. The major northeastern city in Maryland of more than 600,000 people is one of the most dangerous in America, according to the FBI.

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Ths 2019 homicide count is second only to 1993, when there were 353 killings in city limits. That was also when the city had 125,000 additional residents living in it, according to The Sun.

Baltimore ended 2019 with at least 348 reported homicides, according to data compiled by The Baltimore Sun. That ranks as the second-deadliest year on record.

Baltimore ended 2019 with at least 348 reported homicides, according to data compiled by The Baltimore Sun. That ranks as the second-deadliest year on record. (iStock)

The 2019 figure includes the deaths of 37 women, which is the highest total since the Sun started tracking homicide victims in 2007, with more than 100 of the victims reported as young men and women between the ages of 18 to 25. This is the fifth consecutive year that more than 300 murders have been reported in the city.

As the city has faced ever-increasing violence, the homicide clearance rate by the city's police department has struggled to get above 50 percent for the past two years.

In 2019, the city only had a 32 percent homicide clearance rate, which means of the 348 killings in 2019 only about a third of the cases were cleared. A case is considered "cleared" when someone is either arrested, charged or turned over to a court, according to FOX45.

At a news conference earlier this week, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said there are "many factors" that are impacting the clearance rate.

"It has to do with evidence,” Harrison told reporters. “It has to do with police participation.”

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Officials have said the department was short by some 300 officers over the summer and that they are working on recruitment and retention to bolster ranks.

“It has to do with caseload and it has to do with the amount of investigators we have and time spent on cases,” Harrison told reporters.

Baltimore has been in the throes of a steep rise in violent crime since 2015 when the homicide rate spiked amid the city’s worst rioting in decades following the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died in police custody.

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Over the summer, Baltimore Mayor Bernard "Jack" Young said local leadership isn't to blame for the city's increasing homicide rate.

"I’m not committing the murders," he said then. In June at an anti-gun violence rally, the mayor advocated organized fights as a means to solve disputes without using weapons.

As 2020 began, authorities were already busy. Just before 4 a.m., a man was shot near the intersection of South Gay Street and East Baltimore Street, just blocks away from city hall.

The 42-year-old man sustained a gunshot wound to the shoulder, and was transported to an area hospital for treatment, FOX45 reported.

Fox News' Barnini Chakraborty, Dom Calicchio, and Nicole Darrah contributed to this report.