More police will be walking and driving through the streets of Eastport's public housing in the wake of a double shooting late Sunday evening but some elected officials wondered whether that was enough.
The shooting left a 22-year-old Annapolis man in critical condition after he suffered shots to the head, back and buttocks. A 27-year-old Severna Park man was released Monday morning after being treated for a gunshot wound to the back. So far, there have been no arrests.
It's the second shooting to occur in the area this year. In June, Orlando Sherman McDaniel, 29, of Annapolis died as a result of gunshots wounds he suffered near the 1100 block of Madison Street in the Harbour House community. No arrests have been made in this case either.
"What can you tell this council that will assure us that these types of incidents can be minimized?" Alderman Fred Paone (R—2nd Ward) asked the members of Annapolis' Housing Authority board during Monday night's City Council meeting. "We’ve got a huge problem, and if it isn’t addressed, then none of these other things are going to matter."
Paone said he was concerned that crime in Annapolis' public housing has risen since the broader application of a so-called “banning list” was halted in August 2010. Under the old Annapolis Housing Authority policy, persons accused of crimes, or those with criminal records could be banned from the grounds of the housing complex.
Complaints from tenants led to a lawsuit and as a result, the banning list was trimmed substantially. Now, persons who had been convicted of lesser crimes are permitted to visit the complex, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Police records show that following the easing of the ban, the number of people on the exclusion list dropped from 538 to 32, according to the Capital Gazette. Meanwhile, violent crime in public housing has risen by 44 percent over the same two-year period.
Carl Snowden, chairman of the Housing Authority board, told the council that his staff moves quickly evict people who are convicted of violent crimes and drug-related offenses.
“I don’t want to leave the impression that because of this unfortunate shooting that we’ve lost control of public housing,” Snowden said. “I think that’s unfair to the people who live in that neighborhood.”
Snowden also discussed the problems often associated with public housing, such as unemployment and educational needs.
"These are issues that have to be solved by more than HACA," Snowden said. "What we’ve been trying to do is change that perspective to underscore that they can have a better future."
His organization is working to secure funds for college scholarships for people who live subsidized housing.
Alderman Kenneth Kirby (D—6th Ward) pointed out that overall crime in Annapolis is way down from 2007. The most recent police statistics show that violent crimes, such as robbery and assault, are down 45 percent, and homicides have dropped by 88 percent.
"There is a lot of guilt by association going on here," Alderman Ross Arnett (D—8th Ward) said. "We can’t jump to the immediate conclusion that this has anything to do with public housing at all."
Police reported that neither man injured in Sunday's shooting lived in Annapolis' public housing.
For Harbour House resident Charles Wright outsiders make up the majority of the problems he sees with his neighborhood, but overall, he sees his neighborhood as relatively safe.
The number of patrols cars doesn't matter as much to Wright as when those patrols are made and how they are conducted.
"They should patrol at night, not the daytime," Wright said. "They should get out of their cars and do a little more walking and checking in these hallways. Most things going on happen a little closer to the buildings."
Annapolis Police Chief Micheal Pristoop emphasizes community policing where officers engage with residents, Alderman Mathew Silverman (D—5th Ward) said.
"I’ve personally seen the difference in the crime dropping," he said. "Because [the shooting] happened in public housing, it’s causing more of a stir than if it happened anywhere else."
Eastport Terrace resident Chasity Jones commended the police for their efforts. She said despite the recent uptick in violence, her community feels much safer than it did just a few years ago.
"It's not bad over here," Jones said. "If the police keep doing what they are doing, we're going to be fine."
Anyone with information about Sunday's shooting is asked to contact Det. Hipsky at 410-268-9000 or email@example.com.