- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2002

BALTIMORE The seizing of 130 guns overnight on New Year's Eve is a clear indication that Baltimore has too many firearms on the streets and too many in the hands of convicted felons, Police Commissioner Edward Norris said yesterday.
Police arrested 100 persons they said were firing guns at midnight to celebrate the New Year. Officials tracking the criminal records of those arrested found that many violated their probation by having the guns, Commissioner Norris said.
Others are felons, who by law are not allowed to own firearms.
All three of the men shot by police Monday night had criminal backgrounds one with arrests dating back to 1983, Commissioner Norris said.
Police said the men fired guns around midnight and didn't drop them when they were approached by plain-clothed officers who identified themselves as police.
Department spokesmen identified the men as Kevin Andre Jarrell, 37; James Thomas Andrews, 20; and Rufus Edward Gholson III, 31. All three are recovering from their injuries.
One of those arrested was Antonio Ross, who was wanted in connection with another shooting, said Col. Robert Stanton, chief of detectives.
"We got a couple of John Q. Citizen types just shooting off and celebrating, but to a large extent the rest shouldn't have been in possession of firearms to begin with," Col. Stanton said.
The guns seized included rifles, sawed-off shotguns, a machine gun, .45- and .38-calibers, 9 mm handguns and semiautomatics, police said.
Police will use ballistics tests to determine if any are connected to unsolved crimes, said Bill Withers, firearms supervisor.
They also will test the guns to see if any match the .45-caliber bullet that hit a 19-year-old woman in the forehead. Ferra Diggs was standing at the Inner Harbor during the fireworks display when she was struck by the falling bullet.
Police said they still don't know from which direction the shot came. It could have been fired from as far as a mile away, Mr. Withers said.
Commissioner Norris called New Year's Eve a "snapshot" of what Baltimore officers face every day in the city.
"We have a whole lot of people walking around who should be serving time," he said.
Getting those offenders in jail and keeping them there will be the key to cutting the number of homicides this year, Commissioner Norris said. Baltimore closed the year with 259 killings, just two fewer than 2000.
Mayor Martin O'Malley has set a goal of reducing the number to 175 this year.
"These people don't just commit one or two burglaries and then go and get a square job," Commissioner Norris said. "They keep committing them and committing them until they get put away."


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