Baltimore: No More Naivety, or, Baltimore: Dichotomy Exemplified

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Last night my girlfriend and I went to the inner harbor area of Baltimore for their weekly Sunday concert series.  The area is primarily frequented by tourists and shoppers; it's generally considered to be the safest area of Baltimore.  Halfway through the concert, the couple right in front of us became engaged during, of all things, a Van Morrison song.  Shortly after the proposal, and resulting general applause from the rest of the small audience, the couple stood in an embrace and left.

Within a few minutes I noticed a young (late teens) male and female running toward the small amphitheater.  As they ran up the steps next to me and directly over the spot where the young couple had solidified their marital intent, I heard the female say "Keep moving - you've got to keep moving - that fucker shot you".  That's the point at which I noticed the spurting blood coming from the male's arm and landing on my pants.  After they ran past, I stood up, and after trying to figure out what it was I just saw, I walked in the direction they were running.  I grabbed some gloves from a police officer and assisted another EMT who had just run up in controlling the bleeding (it was an arterial brachial bleed) and treating for shock.  It took over 10 minutes for an ambulance to get there (we were a few blocks from two hospitals - no idea why it took so long).  After transferring care and a report to the arriving EMTs (and taking a minute to scrub the blood off my body using the cleaning kit from the back of the ambulance) I heard that there was actually another patient that had just been picked up by another EMS unit who was shot by the same assailant. 

There was a police helicopter that was hovering overhead in no time instructing the running crowds to "leave the scene" and threatening to arrest anyone who stayed.  In the report later, the police claim that they couldn't find the shooter "because of the chaos that ensued after the shots were fired" (see story here).  I imagine that has something to do with the police chasing all of the witnesses away with the threat of arrest. 

The officers who were there on scene when I got to the patient were fairly useless.  It took numerous requests to one officer before she would even stand over me with a flashlight so I could see what I was doing.  The other officers simply stood there and refused to assist us in controlling the scene.  The female was encouraging the patient to keep running turned out to be his sister.  She was literally screaming at us that we needed to get him some water and stop holding his feet down.  The officers flatly refused to remove her so that we could work without distraction. 

This city has a homicide rate that is nearly seven times the national rate, six times the rate of New York City, and three times the rate of Los Angeles.  The police commissioner for the city seems to either be oblivious or challenged when it comes to crime statistics.  Two months ago he stated that the Inner Harbor and surrounding neighborhoods were safe.  That was apparently his assessment after a few teens stabbed each other and there was a string of robberies.  Perhaps he'll be a bit slower to make the same statement again.

The mayor has just been charged with 12 counts of felony theft, perjury, fraud and misconduct in office.  The police have no problem shooting a convenience store robber holding nothing but a screwdriver in the head, followed by a pair of paramedics who couldn't tell that he was moving and still alive.  They left and went back to their station; the police apparently weren't as dense and figured out that movement likely indicated life and called the medics back (more here and here).

I'm amazed at how it is normal that on the same square foot of ground in this city a young, loving couple can become engaged and then ten minutes later that same spot be covered with the blood of a teenage boy.  The clips from the news seem to make it sound as though this isn't so much of an unusual occurrence in the "safest" area of the city.  They seem to say that since the shootings were non-fatal it isn't that bad.  I'm not sure I can ever get used to thinking that attempted homicide is somehow better than successful homicide.

This city might take some getting used to.

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This page contains a single entry by bmuller published on August 16, 2009 12:56 PM.

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