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Violence in Middle River rattles community, police try to ‘calm nerves’

Concerned residents in Middle River gathered to hear from Baltimore County Police about a recent shooting.
John Lee
Concerned residents in Middle River gathered to hear from Baltimore County Police about a recent shooting.

Baltimore County Police said one of the two people shot Tuesday morning in a drive-by shooting in Middle River is a major drug dealer who is in custody.

The Victory Villa Baptist Church in Middle River was near-capacity with concerned neighbors on Thursday night. Police Capt. Eliot Latchaw assured residents the community is safe.

“This incident was not you guys, or your children, or your mom and dad driving down the street and being targeted,” said Latchaw. “There was a reason this happened.”

A man and woman in their 40s were shot near Compass Road and Martin Boulevard in Middle River on Tuesday morning, according to county police.

Cell phone video confirms that at least one automatic weapon was involved, police said.

A video posted online, verified by the police department, shows a vehicle crashed into a telephone pole. The sound of rapid gunfire from an automatic firearm can be heard as a second car drives by the vehicle, according to the video which has been viewed nearly 50,000 times.

“The video that went out obviously is shocking,” Latchaw told the crowd. “We do not see violence like that very often out here.”

Latchaw said the two victims remain hospitalized. The search continues for the suspects.

The community meeting was organized by Republican Del. Ric Metzgar. He said he did it to share the facts with people and to calm their nerves.

“This type of crime and how it happened was so appalling to the community, that it gave them the sense that this is going to get worse,” Metzgar said. “We need to eliminate it before it gets any worse.”

Capt. Latchaw said the number of murders and non-fatal shootings in the Essex area, which includes Middle River, are down this year when compared to last year.

Last year at this time, there had been nine non-fatal shootings and five murders, according to Latchaw. So far this year, there have been five-non-fatal shootings and two homicides.

“I assure you, your community is very safe,” Latchaw said.

Theresa Sothen has lived in the area for seven years. She claims it feels less safe, citing drug activity as one reason why.

“It’s sad,” Sothen said. “It’s really sad what’s going on.”

Marcus “Strider” Dent, the regional director of the Baltimore Guardian Angels, a volunteer crime watch organization, said Tuesday’s shooting was likely an isolated incident.

“This is not a local crime with local violence as you would see in Baltimore City,” Dent said. “What I like is that the community is up and ready to talk about it and not ignoring the situation and letting it go no matter how isolated or what the situation is. You’ve got to be involved if you want to stop something and you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.”

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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