Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Baltimore Homicide Victim Was Police Official's Brother

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Baltimore Homicide Victim Was Police Official's Brother

Article excerpt

BALTIMORE * T.J. Smith is the face of Baltimore police: He's the spokesman pleading with the public at news conferences to put down their guns, call in a tip or keep an eye on wily teenagers.

His pleas to end the relentless bloodshed in this city turned personal when his younger brother became one of Baltimore's latest homicide victims.

Dionay Smith, 24, was found dead inside his apartment Sunday from a gunshot wound. He was the city's 173rd homicide victim this year; there have been three more killings since.

"To many, he will be #173, but to me and my family, he's Dion, a brother, a son, a father, a friend, a nephew, and a kind soul," Smith wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, Smith called a news conference at police headquarters to speak about his brother, whom he'd texted with just last week: their children Dionay's twins and T.J.'s son share the same birthday, and they'd exchanged good wishes. T.J. had taught Dionay how to tie a neck tie; he bought him his first suit to wear to job interviews.

"I've been on crime scenes, I've heard the wails of family members when they discover it's their loved one who is deceased ... on Sunday evening, one of the names that came to me was way too familiar," Smith wrote.

Baltimore has been in the throes of a crime surge for more than two years, and the homicide rate this year is again on track to break records. From January to June, the city saw 170 homicides just two fewer killings than the same time period in 1993, when the city had about 100,000 more residents than it does today. A close second for the bloodiest year was 2015, which recorded 344 homicides, with a population of just 622,000.

The violence in Baltimore began to dramatically spike after the death in April 2015 of Freddie Gray, 25, a black man whose neck was broken in the back of a police transport wagon. Gray's death inspired protests, rioting and a weeklong citywide curfew, and prompted then-mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to fire the sitting police commissioner, Anthony Batts. …

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