TIME Crime

Trooper Who Arrested Sandra Bland Was Previously Warned About ‘Unprofessional Conduct’

His personnel file was just released

(DALLAS) — The Texas trooper who arrested Sandra Bland after a confrontation that began with a traffic stop was once cautioned about “unprofessional conduct” in a 2014 incident while he was still a probationary trooper, according to his personnel file.

Bland, a 28-year-old Chicago-area woman, was found dead in her Waller County jail cell in Hempstead, about 200 miles south of Dallas, on July 13, three days after her arrest. Officials say she used a plastic bag to hang herself, a finding her family has questioned. Bland’s family and others also have criticized Trooper Brian Encinia, who stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change.

The Associated Press obtained Encinia’s personnel file Friday from the Texas Department of Public Safety through a Freedom of Information Act request. Encinia had been with the department for a little over a year. For the most part, his file was unremarkable. He received “competent” ratings in all of the evaluations that were released.

However, in an evaluation that covered September and October 2014, his supervisor noted that Encinia “was given a written counseling for unprofessional conduct … for an incident occurring while at a school in Austin.” The documents provided no additional details and a Department of Public Safety official did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday night.

The evaluation goes on to say, “In the future, Trooper Encinia should conduct himself at all times in a manner that will reflect well upon himself, the Department, and the State of Texas. This supervisor will ensure that this is done by meeting periodically with Trooper Encinia.”

Under the category of “Stress Tolerance” in the same evaluation, his supervisor remarked that Encinia “performed effectively and rationally while involved in a pursuit resulting in a firearms discharge during the reporting period.” The document did not provide additional details about that incident.

The documents also did not include any information about Encinia’s interaction with Bland. That is still under investigation, though the director of the Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, has said Encinia violated internal policies of professionalism and courtesy.

Dashcam video shows the confrontation between Bland and Encinia swiftly escalated after she objected to being told to put out her cigarette. Encinia at one point is seen holding a stun gun as he says, “I will light you up!” after Bland refuses to get out of her car. Bland, who was black, eventually was arrested for allegedly assaulting the white trooper.

Bland’s death came after nearly a year of heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody.

According to his personnel file, Encinia was selected for the Trooper Trainee Academy in December 2013, joined the Department of Public Safety in June 2014 as a probationary trooper and completed his probation in June 2015, becoming a Highway Patrol trooper.

Encinia’s most recent performance evaluation was for November and December 2014. Among the remarks were that Encinia “appears to operate effectively under stress,” ”continues to use good problem solving skills and judgment while working patrol” and “appears to treat others in a respectful manner.”

Before applying for trooper training, Encinia was a volunteer firefighter in Brenham, where he was a supervisor at Blue Bell Creameries. Brenham Fire Chief Ricky Boeker remembered Encinia as a “stand-up kind of guy” popular with the people he worked with.

Encinia, a 2008 graduate of Texas A&M University, was elected as a district chief, Boeker said.

“He was a smart individual, very detail-oriented and he was just well liked by all of our members,” he said.

TIME remembrance

Family Tension Erupts at Bobbi Kristina Brown Funeral

She was 22 years old

(ALPHARETTA, Ga.) — The ongoing tensions between the families of the late megastar Whitney Houston and her ex-husband, R&B singer Bobby Brown, erupted Saturday during a memorial service for their daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

Bobbi Kristina, who dreamed of growing up to achieve fame like her mother, died in hospice care July 26, about six months after she was found face-down and unresponsive in a bathtub in her suburban Atlanta townhome.

A longstanding rift between families of the young woman’s famous mother and father broke out into the open at a memorial service being held for Bobbi Kristina at the St. James United Methodist Church in Alpharetta.

Leolah Brown, the sister of Bobby Brown, walked out of the church and spoke to reporters gathered outside. She said she was angry because Pat Houston was speaking at the funeral. Pat Houston is the sister-in-law and former manager for the late Whitney Houston.

“I told her that Whitney is going to haunt her from the grave,” Leolah Brown told reporters outside the church.

She suggested that the feud between the Houstons and the Browns was far from over.

“It’s just getting started,” she said.

Bobbi Kristina’s death was grimly similar to the way her megastar mother had died three years earlier.

Bobbi Kristina was found in the townhome she shared with Nick Gordon, an orphan three years older, whom Houston had raised as her own. Bobbi Kristina referred to him as her husband. A police report earlier this year described the incident as a drowning, and authorities are investigating her death.

Bobbi Kristina Brown was the only child of Houston and Brown and was raised in the shadow of her famous parents’ hugely public life.

She appeared alongside the couple in 2005 on the Bravo reality show “Being Bobby Brown,” which showed her parents fighting, swearing and making court appearances. She attended award shows with her mother and father, walked red carpets with them and sang in Central Park with Houston as adoring fans watched.

Bobbi Kristina was the sole heir of her mother’s estate. She identified herself on Twitter as “Daughter of Queen WH,” ”Entertainer/Actress” with William Morris & Co., and “LAST of a dying breed.”

She told Oprah Winfrey shortly after her mother’s death in 2012 that she wanted to carry on Houston’s legacy by singing, acting and dancing. But her career never took off.

TIME celebrities

Snoop Dogg Stopped by Italian Customs With $422,000 in Cash

snoop dog england
Ollie Millington—Getty Images Snoop Dogg performs onstage during his headline show at the end of day one of Y Not Festival at Pikehall on July 31, 2015 in Matlock, England.

Half the money was taken by authorities

(MILAN)—Snoop Dogg has had another run-in with European authorities.

Italian financial police said they stopped the rapper at the Lamezia Terme airport in Calabria on Saturday with $422,000 in cash, well above the limit that can legally be transported across EU borders undeclared. The incident comes less than a week after Snoop Dogg was briefly stopped in Sweden on suspicion of drug use after a concert near Stockholm.

Financial police confirmed a report by the Italian news agency ANSA that half of the cash was impounded under Italian anti-money laundering codes. In such cases, the balance is returned minus any fine set by magistrates.

Travelers within the European Union are required to declare 10,000 euros ($11,000) or more in cash.

Snoop Dogg played in Calabria Friday night, and is scheduled to perform Sunday at the Kendal Calling Festival in England.

Last weekend in Sweden, the rapper was questioned and tested for suspected drug use north of the capital. Authorities said test results would not be available for some time.

TIME myanmar

Angelina Jolie Visits Female Factory Workers in Myanmar

She is on a four-day visit to the Southeast Asian nation

(YANGON, Myanmar)—Angelina Jolie has joined Myanmar’s opposition leader and democracy icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, in sitting down with female workers to learn more about their dire conditions.

Jolie, who is a special envoy for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, is on a four-day visit to the Southeast Asian nation.

Angelina Jolie myanmar refugee camp
Hkun Lat—APActress Angelina Jolie Pitt, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees special envoy and co-founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative walks with her son Pax as they visit Jan Mai Kaung refugee camp in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar on July 30, 2015.

During her meeting with the factory workers on the outskirts of an industrial zone in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, Jolie and Suu Kyi witnessed first-hand the conditions the women live in, mostly low-cost hostels. Jolie also toured inside the factory.

She traveled to Kachin state earlier this week, home to more than 10,000 displaced people since a cease-fire between Myanmar’s government and ethnic rebels has broken down in 2011.

According to her trip details, it is unlikely that Jolie will be able to travel to western Rakhine State, where more than 100,000 Muslim minority Rohingya live in apartheid-like conditons in camps.

It is Jolie’s first visit to Myanmar, which only recently emerged from decades of military rule. More than a dozen ethnic minority groups, mostly in Myanmar’s border areas, have been fighting for greater autonomy since the country attained independence from Britain 67 years ago.

Recently, the world attention has turned to the plight of stateless Rohingya Muslims who have been trafficked from Myanmar and Bangladesh aboard overcrowded boats. Dozens of graves as well as pens likely used as cages for Rohingya have been found in abandoned jungle camps on both sides of the Thailand-Malaysian border.

TIME France

Possible Malaysia Airlines Plane Debris Arrives in France

French authorities have imposed extraordinary secrecy over the wing piece

(BALMA, France)—A wing flap suspected to be from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Saturday arrived at a French military testing facility where it will be analyzed by experts.

After a 10-hour journey by road from Paris’ Orly airport, a truck carrying the roughly 8-foot (2.44-meter) component known as a flaperon arrived at the DGA TA aeronautical testing site near Toulouse, accompanied by police motorcycles and a police car.

French aviation experts will try to establish whether the wreckage that was found on the Indian Ocean island Reunion comes from the Boeing 777 which disappeared on March 8, 2014, while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

The experts, including a legal expert, will start their inquiry on Wednesday, according to the Paris prosecutor’s office. On Monday, an investigating judge will meet with Malaysian authorities and representatives of the French aviation investigative agency, known as the BEA, according to a statement late Friday.

Air safety investigators, including one from Boeing, have identified the component as a flaperon from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777 wing, a U.S. official said. The official wasn’t authorized to be publicly identified.

Flight 370 is the only missing 777 and many are convinced the flap comes from the ill-fated jet.

“In the aeronautic community there is no (doubt) on the issue of what the debris belongs to. We are all convinced that it belongs to this flight (370),” said aviation security expert Christophe Naudin on France’s BFM-TV.

He said only three 777s have crashed since 2013 and the other two were in completely different locations.

“One is in the United States, one in Ukraine, and this one in the Indian Ocean,” he said.

Under a microscope and expert eyes, the wing fragment that washed up on the beach of the volcanic island could yield clues not just to its path through the Indian Ocean, but also to what happened to the airplane.

Analysts at the French aviation laboratory hope to glean details from metal stress to see what caused the flap to break off, spot explosive or other chemical traces, and study the sea life that made its home on the wing to pinpoint where it came from.

Even if the piece is confirmed to be wreckage from Flight 370, there’s no guarantee that investigators can find the plane’s vital black box recorders or other debris. A multinational search effort has so far come up empty.

TIME U.K.

Bin Laden Family Members Killed in Plane Crash

A Saudi ambassador offered condolences to the wealthy bin Laden family

(LONDON) — Three relatives of the late al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden were among four people killed when a private jet crashed on landing in southern England, British police confirmed Saturday.

The Hampshire Police force said formal post-mortems were still being conducted, but the victims were believed to be “the mother, sister and brother-in-law of the owner of the aircraft, all of whom are from the bin Laden family.” It said all three were Saudi nationals who were visiting Britain on vacation. The plane’s Jordanian pilot also died.

Arab media and NBC News named the relatives as Osama Bin Laden’s stepmother Rajaa Hashim, his sister Sana bin Laden and her husband Zuhair Hashim.

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain, Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdel-Aziz, offered his condolences to the wealthy bin Laden family, which owns a major construction company in Saudi Arabia.

“The embassy will follow up on the incident and its circumstances with the concerned British authorities and work on speeding up the handover of the bodies of the victims to the kingdom for prayer and burial,” the ambassador said in a statement tweeted by the embassy.

Police said the Embraer Phenom 300 executive jet crashed into a parking lot and burst into flames while trying to land at Blackbushe Airport in southern England Friday afternoon.

The plane was flying from Malpensa Airport in Milan to the airfield about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of London, which is used by private planes and flying clubs.

No one on the ground was hurt. Police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch launched a joint investigation.

Andrew Thomas, who was at a car auction sales center based at the airport, told the BBC that “the plane nosedived into the cars and exploded on impact.” He said he saw the plane and several cars in flames.

The plane’s pilot was Mazen Salem al-Dajah, a Jordanian in his late 50s. His brother Ziad told The Associated Press that al-Dajah’s family had been told of his death by a representative of the bin Laden family’s corporation. He said al-Dajah received his pilot’s license in California about 25 years ago and had been employed by the bin Laden family.

The bin Laden family disowned Osama in 1994 when Saudi Arabia stripped him of his citizenship because of his militant activities. The al-Qaida leader was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in 2011.

The family is a large and wealthy one. Osama bin Laden’s billionaire father Mohammed had more than 50 children and founded the Binladen Group, a sprawling construction conglomerate awarded many major building contracts in the Sunni kingdom.

Mohammed bin Laden died in a plane crash in Saudi Arabia in 1967. One of his sons, Salem, was killed when his ultralight aircraft flew into power lines in San Antonio, Texas, in 1988.

TIME natural disaster

Hundreds Flee California Wildfires as Governor Declares State of Emergency

A firefighter was killed in the fires

(LOWER LAKE, Calif.)—Blazes raging in forests and woodlands across California have taken the life of a firefighter and forced hundreds of people to flee their homes as an army of firefighters continue to battle them from the air and the ground.

Twenty-three large fires, many sparked by lightning strikes, were burning across Northern California on Saturday, said state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant. Some 8,000 firefighters were attempting to subdue them, something made incredibly difficult by several years of drought that have dried out California.

“The conditions and fire behavior we’re seeing at 10 in the morning is typically what we’d see in late afternoon in late August and September,” said Nick Schuler, a division chief with the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “But because of the dry conditions, because of the drought-stricken vegetation accompanied by the steep terrain and winds, we’re seeing fire activity that’s abnormal for this time of year.”

In the Modoc National Forest, about a hundred miles south of Oregon, David Ruhl, an engine captain from South Dakota’s Black Hills National Forest, was killed fighting a fast-moving blaze. He had vanished Thursday while fighting the 800-acre fire and his body wasn’t recovered until Friday.

The biggest fire was in the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco where firefighters had to wade through thick smoke and flying embers to turn loose horses, goats and other livestock in rural neighborhoods as their owners fled to safety. The fast-moving fire had burned three homes by Friday and was threatening 450 other structures. Only 5 percent contained, it had spread across 28 square miles and was growing quickly.

The fires prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for California on Friday. As part of the order, he activated the California National Guard to help with disaster recovery.

Berlant said firefighters were hoping cooler weather might help them this weekend, but there was also the threat that lingering thunderstorms could bring more lightning strikes like those that ignited several of the fires.

__

BURNING HILLS

The fast-spreading wildfire near Lower Lake north of San Francisco has torched three homes and is threatening more than 450 structures.

At least 650 residents have been evacuated from their homes as the blaze raged in hills covered in dense brush and oak trees and dotted with ranch homes. It has charred 28 square miles near Lower Lake, south of Clear Lake, a popular summer recreation spot.

Only 5 percent contained, it was moving southwest toward Lower Lake and Clear Lake.

“We saw it behind our house. We saw the smoke pouring over. So we just started collecting stuff and we left, to find out later that everyone was evacuated out here,” said resident Julie Flannery.

When they returned Friday they found their two horses and one mule were gone. They hoped firefighters turned them loose so they could make their way to safety.

“The rest of this is just material stuff,” she said. “The animals and the family is the most important.”

___

FIRE LINES HOLDING

Crews battling a fire east of Napa Valley held their ground Friday, more than a week after it started.

The blaze has charred more than 12 square miles in Solano County. The fire is about 45 miles east of Napa’s wine county, and vineyards are not threatened.

At least 136 structures are threatened, but evacuation orders have been lifted. It is mostly contained, and crews expect to have it fully corralled by Monday.

___

FOOTHILLS FIRES

A woman was arrested in connection with a small fire near Groveland, a stop-off point for travelers headed to Yosemite National Park.

The 200-acre fire, about 20 miles from the park’s entrance, was 45 percent contained Friday. About two dozen homes are threatened and voluntary evacuations are in place.

Lisa Ann Vilmur was arrested Thursday night for recklessly causing a fire and jailed on $100,000 bail. It was not known Friday if she has an attorney.

In a separate foothills blaze northeast of Sacramento, evacuation orders have been lifted for residents of 50 homes. The fire, which ignited Saturday, burned through more than 3 1/2 square miles and is almost fully contained.

___

BASS LAKE BLAZE

Residents of 200 homes in the central California community of Cascadel Woods were ordered to evacuate Thursday.

A wildfire burning near Bass Lake for several days spread to more than 6 square miles and is partially contained.

Authorities say a boy acknowledged starting the fire by playing with a lighter to burn pine needles in the dry Sierra Nevada. They say the boy faces criminal charges but is not in custody because he and his family are cooperating.

___

MODOC NATIONAL FOREST FIRE

Engine Captain David Ruhl of South Dakota was killed battling the fire that broke out Thursday in the Modoc National Forest about 100 miles south of Oregon.

The firefighter had vanished Thursday and his body wasn’t found until Friday. U.S. Forest Service officials didn’t immediately reveal the cause of death.

Ruhl, who was assigned to a Black Hills National Forest firefighting team, had been helping California firefighters since June.

The fire broke out southeast of Lava Camp and rapidly grew to consume 800 acres. No containment figure was immediately given.

TIME Florida

Coast Guard Suspends Search for Missing Teen Fishermen

Perry Cohen (L) and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.
U.S. Coast Guard—AP Perry Cohen (L) and Austin Stephanos, both 14 years old.

The families will press ahead with a private search

(OPA-LOCKA, Fla.)—After hundreds of rescue workers fanned out across a massive swath of the Atlantic for a full week, the Coast Guard’s search for two teenage fishermen ended Friday, a heart-rending decision for families so convinced the boys could be alive they’re pressing on with their own hunt.

The agency said it ended the search at sunset, as it had announced earlier in the day. The Coast Guard searched waters from South Florida up through South Carolina without success.

Even as officials announced at noon that the formal search-and-rescue effort would end at sundown, private planes and boats were preparing to keep scouring the water hoping for clues on what happened to the 14-year-old neighbors, Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos.

Capt. Mark Fedor called the decision to suspend the search “excruciating and gut-wrenching.” He suggested what long had been feared by observers — that the boys had surpassed any reasonable period of survivability — with his offering of “heartfelt condolences.”

“I know no statistics will ease the pain,” he said in recounting the seven-day, nearly 50,000-square-nautical-mile search. “We were desperate to find Austin and Perry.”

With volunteers ready to keep searching all along the coastline and about $340,000 in search-fund donations by Friday evening, the families promised to keep looking for their sons.

Nick Korniloff, the stepfather of Perry, addressed a horde of media outside his home on a quiet street in Tequesta, Florida, saying air searches led by private pilots would go on alongside new efforts led by former members of the military and others with special training.

“We know there’s a window here and we think there’s an opportunity,” he said, “and we will do everything we can to bring these boys home.”

Those who have met with the families believe the private search could go on at least for weeks.

“How could you go back to normal?” said Tequesta Police Chief Christopher Elg, who has stayed in regular contact with the families. “They may very well devote a large portion of the next few weeks, months, maybe even years just toward hope and doing what they can to bring themselves a sense of peace.”

The Coast Guard had dispatched crews night and day to scan the Atlantic for signs of the boys. They chased repeated reports of objects sighted in the water, and at times had the help of the Navy and other local agencies. But after the boys’ boat was found overturned Sunday, no useful clues turned up.

The families had held out hope that items believed to have been on the boat, including a large cooler, might be spotted, or that the teens might even have clung to something buoyant in their struggle to stay alive. Even as hope dimmed, experts on survival said finding the teens alive was still possible. The Coast Guard said it would keep on searching until officials no longer thought the boys could be rescued.

The saga began July 24, when the boys took Austin’s 19-foot boat on what their families said was expected to be a fishing trip within the nearby Loxahatchee River and Intracoastal Waterway, where they were allowed to cruise without supervision. The boys fueled up at a local marina around 1:30 p.m. and set off, and later calls to Austin’s cellphone went unanswered. When a line of summer storms moved through and the boys still couldn’t be reached, police were called and the Coast Guard search began.

The boys grew up on the water, constantly boated and fished, worked at a tackle shop together and immersed themselves in life on the ocean. Their families said they could swim before they could walk. They clung to faith in their boys’ knowledge of the sea, even speculating they might have fashioned a raft and spear to keep them afloat and fed while adrift.

“It is a mother’s prayer that you will be safe and sound in our arms today,” Austin’s mother, Pamela Cohen, tweeted Friday. “Missing you both more than you could ever imagine.”

Many unknowns about the boys’ status persisted throughout the ordeal, including whether they were wearing life jackets and whether they had food or water. The Coast Guard said it tried to err toward optimism in deciding how long to press on.

Along the way, some suggested the teens shouldn’t have been allowed to boat on their own. Many others, though, voiced support, saying voyages with set boundaries are normal among boating families, and that the parents had no control over what ultimately happened.

Locals turned out night after night for vigils, poured money into the private search fund, used their own boats and planes and walked the coastline in pursuit of any little clue that might make a break. The efforts got an early boost from a high-profile neighbor of the families, NFL Hall of Famer Joe Namath, who helped garner publicity for the story.

TIME Afghanistan

New Afghan Taliban Leader Vows to Continue Insurgency

He replaces former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar

(KABUL, Afghanistan)—The new leader of the Afghan Taliban vowed to continue his group’s bloody, nearly 14-year insurgency in an audio message released Saturday, urging his fighters to remain unified after the death of their longtime leader.

The audio message purportedly from Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor also included comments about peace talks, though it wasn’t immediately clear whether he supported them or not.

Mansoor took over the Taliban after the group on Thursday confirmed that former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had died and said they elected Mansoor as his successor. Afghan government announced Wednesday that the reclusive mullah had been dead since April 2013.

“We should keep our unity, we must be united, our enemy will be happy in our separation,” Mansoor purportedly said in the message. “This is a big responsibly on us. This is not the work of one, two or three people. This is all our responsibility to carry on jihad until we establish the Islamic state.”

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid sent the audio to journalists and others Saturday. The Associated Press could not independently verify the man speaking in the roughly 30-minute audio clip, though the Taliban spokesman is in charge of all communications for the group.

Mullah Omar was the one-eyed, secretive head of the Taliban, whose group hosted Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaida in the years leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He had not been seen in public since fleeing over the border into Pakistan after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

The new leader of the Taliban is seen as close to Pakistan, which is believed to have sheltered and supported the insurgents through the war. Whether he’ll be keen to sit down for peace talks with the Afghan government remains in question. The Taliban pulled out of talks scheduled for Friday in Pakistan after Mullah Omar’s death became public.

Taliban attacks against Afghan officials and forces have intensified with their annual warm-weather offensive. Local security forces increasingly find themselves under attack as NATO and U.S. troops ended their combat mission in the country at the end of last year.

TIME Crime

Baltimore Sees the Highest Number of Homicides in 43 Years

Baltimore Homicide Spike
Patrick Semansky—AP In this July 30, 2015 picture, a member of the Baltimore Police Department removes crime scene tape from a corner where a victim of a shooting was discovered in Baltimore.

The city reported 45 homicides in July

(BALTIMORE) — Baltimore reached a grim milestone on Friday, three months after riots erupted in response to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody: With 45 homicides in July, the city has seen more bloodshed in a single month than it has in 43 years.

Police reported three deaths — two men shot Thursday and one on Friday. The men died at local hospitals.

With their deaths, this year’s homicides reached 189, far outpacing the 119 killings by July’s end in 2014. Nonfatal shootings have soared to 366, compared to 200 by the same date last year. July’s total was the worst since the city recorded 45 killings in August 1972, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The seemingly Sisyphean task of containing the city’s violence prompted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to fire her police commissioner, Anthony Batts, on July 8.

“Too many continue to die on our streets,” Rawlings-Blake said then. “Families are tired of dealing with this pain, and so am I. Recent events have placed an intense focus on our police leadership, distracting many from what needs to be our main focus: the fight against crime.”

But the killings have not abated under Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis since then.

Baltimore is not unique in its suffering; crimes are spiking in big cities around the country.

But while the city’s police are closing cases— Davis announced arrests in three recent murders several days ago — the violence is outpacing their efforts. Davis said Tuesday the “clearance rate” is at 36.6 percent, far lower than the department’s mid-40s average.

Crime experts and residents of Baltimore’s most dangerous neighborhoods cite a confluence of factors: mistrust of the police; generalized anger and hopelessness over a lack of opportunities for young black men; and competition among dealers of illegal drugs, bolstered by the looting of prescription pills from pharmacies during the riot.

Federal drug enforcement agents said gangs targeted 32 pharmacies in the city, taking roughly 300,000 doses of opiates, as the riots caused $9 million in property damage in the city.

Perched on a friend’s stoop, Sherry Moore, 55, said she knew “mostly all” of the young men killed recently in West Baltimore, including an 18-year-old fatally shot a half-block away. Moore said many more pills are on the street since the riot, making people wilder than usual.

“The ones doing the violence, the shootings, they’re eating Percocet like candy and they’re not thinking about consequences. They have no discipline, they have no respect — they think this is a game. How many can I put down on the East side? How many can I put down on the West side?”

The tally of 42 homicides in May included Gray, who died in April after his neck was broken in police custody. The July tally likewise includes a previous death — a baby whose death in June was ruled a homicide in July.

Shawn Ellerman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said May’s homicide spike was probably related to the stolen prescription drugs, a supply that is likely exhausted by now. But the drug trade is inherently violent, and turf wars tend to prompt retaliatory killings.

“You can’t attribute every murder to narcotics, but I would think a good number” of them are, he said. “You could say it’s retaliation from drug trafficking, it’s retaliation from gangs moving in from other territories. But there have been drug markets in Baltimore for years.”

Across West Baltimore, residents complain that drug addiction and crime are part of a cycle that begins with despair among children who lack educational and recreational opportunities, and extends when people can’t find work.

“We need jobs! We need jobs!” a man riding around on a bicycle shouted to anyone who’d listen after four people were shot, three of them fatally, on a street corner in July.

More community engagement, progressive policing policies and opportunities for young people in poverty could help, community activist Munir Bahar said.

“People are focusing on enforcement, not preventing violence. Police enforce a code, a law. Our job as the community is to prevent the violence, and we’ve failed,” said Bahar, who leads the annual 300 Men March against violence in West Baltimore.

“We need anti-violence organizations, we need mentorship programs, we need a long-term solution. But we also need immediate relief,” Bahar added. “When we’re in something so deep, we have to stop it before you can analyze what the root is.”

Strained relationships between police and the public also play a role, according to Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Arrests plummeted and violence soared after six officers were indicted in Gray’s death. Residents accused police of abandoning their posts for fear of facing criminal charges for making arrests, and said emboldened criminals were settling scores with little risk of being caught.

The department denied these claims, and police cars have been evident patrolling West Baltimore’s central thoroughfares recently.

But O’Donnell said the perception of lawlessness is just as powerful than the reality.

“We have a national issue where the police feel they are the Public Enemy No. 1,” he said, making some officers stand down and criminals become more brazen.

“There’s a rhythm to the streets,” he added. “And when people get away with gun violence, it has a long-term emboldening effect. And the good people in the neighborhood think, ‘Who has the upper hand?'”

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