Baltimore mayor to criminals: Put down guns amid coronavirus

March 18, 2020 GMT

The mayor of Baltimore exhorted criminals to “put down the guns” amid the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday, a day after seven people were wounded in a streetcorner shooting.

Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young condemned the violence as Tuesday’s incident pushed the city’s tally of non-fatal shootings to 111 for 2020. Young told reporters authorities will not tolerate crime during the pandemic and added he has instructed the city’s police commissioner “to do everything in his power” to fight it.

“We cannot clog our hospitals with their beds with people who are being shot senselessly because we are going to need those beds for people who might be infected with the coronavirus, and it could be your mother, your grandmother or one of your relatives,” Young said. “So, take that under consideration and put down the guns.”


Young said Baltimore has recorded five cases of COVID-19, with evidence of community transmission. Maryland had reported more than 80 cases as of Wednesday afternoon.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more serve illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the illness.

Baltimore has been plagued with gun violence for decades. The city ended 2019 with 348 homicides, its fifth year in a row with more than 300 slayings. Sixty-one people have been killed this year.

On Tuesday, the people gathered at the streetcorner in west Baltimore were wounded by a man with a semi-automatic rifle, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison told reporters after the shooting. An officer on patrol saw it happen and fired at the suspected gunman as he was fleeing the scene.

Five of the victims were transported for treatment by emergency medical personnel. Harrison on Wednesday said two other victims were dropped off at a hospital by “private conveyance.”

Harrison said all victims are in serious, but stable condition. They are a 37-year-old woman, a 17-year-old boy, three 20-year-old men, and two other men ages 23 and 24.

Harrison said it’s unclear whether the officer, whose name has not been made public, struck anybody. Harrison said the officer experienced very minor injuries and praised him for his dedication and bravery because he “was not armed with the level of deadly fire power” that the suspect had.


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