A Baltimore toddler was pulled from a hot car by police an hour after her father was shot dead in front of her.
Ernest Solomon, 26, was gunned down outside his car on March 27 in West Baltimore and died soon after being taken to hospital, reports the Daily Mail.
Police did not open Solomon's car immediately after the incident, reportedly to avoid tampering with potential evidence. Later, after hearing a "whimper" coming from inside the vehicle, officers retrieved the keys from Solomon's pockets and opened his car.
"The windows were tinted very dark [and] when they looked inside the vehicle they discovered a baby, a little girl ... was in a car seat inside of that vehicle," Baltimore police spokesman Detective Donnie Moses told WBAL.
The 10-month-old baby was rescued from the hot car and taken to a local hospital. She was reported to be in good condition, and was reunited with family members one day later.
Moses defended the decision not to open the car sooner. "Who would think that a baby would be in that car in the middle of a shooting scene?" he said.
The March shooting of Solomon was Baltimore's 76th homicide of 2017, with the murder toll rapidly mounting. As eyewitness Equilla Henriques put it in a statement to The Baltimore Sun: "Every time you turn around, someone's getting killed."
As of May 13, the Baltimore homicide count for the year was 124, making Baltimore’s homicide rate one of the highest in the country, reports The Washington Post. It is more than triple Washington’s rate and higher than the homicide rates in New Orleans and Chicago.
“People don’t realize it’s worse than Chicago,” said Otis Rolley, former Baltimore planning director and former mayoral candidate. His 23-year-old nephew, Andrew Zachary, a former Marine, was the 15th person killed in the city this year. “This man was trained by the U.S. government and had the skills and ability to survive in a combat situation overseas but was unable to navigate the streets of Baltimore. And that is a scary, scary thing.”
The number of police officers in Baltimore is at its lowest in a decade, which Police Union President Lt. Gene Ryan has addressed. In an interview with CBS Baltimore, he said: "You get in a crisis mode like we're in right now with crime out of control and not enough uniformed officers on the street, I would say it's at a crisis point."