Not only will Baltimore end the year with fewer than 300 homicides for the first time since 2014, but the city is ending the year better than it started, a Banner analysis has found.
Since 2015, Baltimore has typically seen a small increase in homicides to end the year. But not in 2023.
Though there are still a few days left in December, it appears likely fewer people will have been killed in the last three months of the year than in any three other consecutive months this year. The end-of-year trend puts an exclamation point on a positive trend that includes a decrease in the number of people shot in Baltimore two years running.
But it also highlights the stark contrast in the city’s high school-aged teens’ experience as they grapple with historic rates of gun violence.
The Banner analyzed gun violence trends earlier this year using a seasonal model to forecast how many homicides the city might expect by the end of the year. The Banner informed the model with data from the last seven years. The result: The number of people killed in each of the first five months had been lower than the forecast, but still within the expected range. But that’s not true anymore.
Homicides have been at the bottom range of The Banner’s forecast for the last three months. In November, the number of homicides dropped below the range.
Back in July, The Banner predicted the city could end with 275 homicides. As of Dec. 27, Baltimore Police counted 258 homicides, one more than in The Banner’s analysis of weekly public crimes database released by the department that includes data about crimes through Dec. 24.
Though the decrease in gun violence hasn’t been felt for all age groups, the historic decrease in homicides has been felt in most parts of the city. The Banner found many of Baltimore’s most historically violent neighborhoods have seen fewer killings this year.
But things were much worse for high school-aged teens. More 13- to 18-year-olds were shot in 2022 than in any year since 2015, the last year for which The Banner has reliable data. Things were more grim in 2023: 24 were shot and killed this year. Another 123 were shot and survived. Overall, it was a 30% increase.
There has been some confusion on how to account for this historic rate of gun violence. Other organizations, including other Baltimore news media, have used different ranges to analyze the trend. Some have chosen 19 and under to include all juveniles and all teens. Others have focused only on the legally defined juvenile age range of 17 and under.
The Banner has focused its analysis on 13- to 18-year-olds since it first identified that many juveniles were shot near a school during school hours. The same was true for 18-year-olds, but not 19-year-olds.
The number of 18-year-olds who have been shot in Baltimore has increased along with the rise in juveniles 17 and under, though children 12 and under have increased far less significantly. Things have gotten even worse for last year’s 17-year-olds — now 18-year-olds. More 18-year-olds have been shot than last year and more have been shot than when those 18-year-olds were 17 years old last year.
The number of 19-year-olds shot, though, has been mostly down or flat, depending on how you compare it. This year was slightly worse than last year. But compared to the years before the pandemic, fewer are being shot.
It’s hard to find good news when it comes to youth gun violence. Not even the end-of-year drop has affected them the same. October and November were very violent months, when 14 and 11 youths were shot, respectively. But December has been better.
In the worst month of the year, 32 high school-aged teens were shot. July included the Brooklyn Homes mass shooting, the worst mass shooting in recent Baltimore memory, where 19 high school-aged teens were shot.
But through Dec. 24, there were just three high school-aged teens shot. That’s by far the lowest month this year.
It’s also lower than any December since 2016.