A police officer killed a man neighbors described as a homeless veteran on Saturday, Aug. 18. Rudolph Bell, 63 years old, was the 10th person city police have shot in the line of duty this year, and the eighth person killed. By The Baltimore Sun's count, last year police shot a total of 14 people, killing five of them.
Police said they received a call for a burglary on the 1600 block of West Lexington Street at about 12:30 P.M. on Saturday. Two officers responded and found Bell on the third floor of an abandoned building. Bell then lunged at one of the officers with either a broken bottle or a knife, cutting the officer's face. The other officer opened fire, hitting Bell multiple times.
According to online court records, Bell had a long record of arrests on drugs, assault, and weapons concealment charges. He was found guilty of drug-related charges in 1999 and violated probation on his five-year suspended sentence when he was charged with burglary, assault, and resisting arrest. He was convicted on the latter charge. He was guilty of drug charges again in 2003 and in 2008, when he received a two-year sentence. More recent charges were dropped.
Neighbors told The Sun's Justin Fenton and WBAL that Bell was a neighborhood stalwart who "looked out for everybody," "stayed to himself," and "didn't bother nobody." Apparently alarmed by the increased number of fatal police shootings this year, e-mails went out to city activists demanding to know "what are we going to do about it?"
On July 31, police fatally shot Johnathan Blankenship, 40, who fought with one of them after they responded to a domestic dispute in Medfield. A police spokesperson said a knife was "nearby" when a second officer pulled the trigger.
On July 1, police shot Michael Wudtee, 38, of the 8600 block of Greens Lane after they saw him punching his girlfriend through a car window. Police chased Wudtee on foot, and he fought with an officer before being shot.
On May 19, police shot 31-year-old Maurice Holloman (also known as Maurice Donald Johnson) of Belair-Edison after he allegedly attacked them inside his mother's home and grabbed for an officer's gun. Holloman reportedly had a mental illness that led to violent tantrums.
On March 27, police killed Seron Jackson, 21, who was armed with a pocketknife.
On March 31, police killed George Wells, 29, who was also armed with a pocketknife. That was also a domestic disturbance call.
They also shot a burglar in Upper Fells Point and another mentally ill man in West Baltimore. Both of those men survived.