On Saturday, Baltimore’s law-enforcement officials recorded the city’s 300th homicide, the Associated Press reports.
“This challenging moment shall pass if we reject blame and embrace the hope, dreams, and promise of a great American city. Baltimore will win again, 2015 will not define us, and the nation will once again see our city for the determination that has long defined us,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, according to AP.
A 27-year-old man, who died from multiple stab wounds, marked this year’s 300th homicide. The last time Baltimore reached that threshold in a single year was 1999. Last year, officials recorded 211 killings.
Baltimore’s homicide rate began to escalate after the riots in April over the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody. In July, officials counted 45 homicides—the highest number in a single month since 1972, according to AP.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts in July. The Baltimore Sun reported that she said Batts had become a distraction at a time when the city needed to concentrate on stemming the surge of violence. She chose Davis to serve as interim commissioner, and the Baltimore City Council confirmed Davis as Batts’ permanent replacement in October.
According to the Washington Post, the 300-homicide milestone is “a symbolic threshold” for Baltimore. Martin O’Malley, the democratic presidential candidate who ran for mayor of Baltimore in 1999, vowed to reduce the homicide rate, which reached 300 that year. O’Malley pledged to get tough on crime and reduce the number of murders to 175 annually.