Cambridge authorities: Citizens must help solve crimes

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Cambridge Police Chief Mark Lewis spoke during a press conference Tuesday, at which city leaders called for citizens’ help and support in bringing violent criminals to justice. Seated at left is Capt. Justin Todd.

CAMBRIDGE — Leaders of the Cambridge Police Department (CPD), State’s Attorney for Dorchester County Bill Jones and Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley called at a press conference Tuesday for citizens to get involved and to help the police solve recent crimes.
In a year with higher-than-average numbers of aggravated assaults — that is, crimes of violence leading to felony charges — the last week and a half have been particularly trying for this city. A series of stabbings and a shooting left two dead over the weekend, while robberies and a carjacking took place Oct. 20-22.
The CPD, chronically short staffed, had to call for assistance from the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office and the Maryland State Police. On Monday, the City Council voted to “un-freeze” five officers’ jobs with the CPD, for which hiring had previously been prohibited.
The surge in crime has not only stretched the CPD’s resources, it has also highlighted the need for cooperation with the general public. “We need the citizens’ support,” Chief Mark Lewis said.
In the meantime, officers are working overtime to find the perpetrators. “I do want to say to the ones who are responsible for these crimes, you are not welcome in our community. We will do everything that we can do, with whatever resources we can muster to find you, to identify you, and to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Witnesses
The chief said his officers know, in some cases, that there were witnesses to crimes, but that they are unwilling to speak up.
“People do not want to communicate with the police,” said Capt. Todd, who is in charge of Operations for the CPD. “I want to stress the Tip Line. You can remain anonymous, you can provide investigators information…If that leads to something, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t, we can rule that out.”
The Tip Line, originally established for drug issues, is 410-228-DRUG, or 410-228-3784. There is no caller ID, so anyone using the line will remain anonymous, Chief Lewis said.
Mayor Jackson-Stanley opened her remarks by saying, “I want first of all to express my condolences to the families who have been victimized in so many ways by the unspeakable crimes that have gripped our community recently. It’s not acceptable. I condemn the violence.”
She continued, “I ask the community to please step forward and get involved in helping our police department.”
State’s Attorney
Progress is being made in the investigations, Mr. Jones said. As for the Saturday night episode, “I believe there will be much more information coming in the next day or two.” He struck a reassuring note, saying that as he understood this case, the public should know that he did not see a threat existing at that time.
Mr. Jones, “If we don’t have order in our society, in the streets, then we don’t have freedom. You can’t leave your home, you can’t go to the store.”
Noting that there are “too many guns on the streets of Cambridge,” Mr. Jones said, “Without the police, we are not going to get these guns off the streets. These dedicated officers have to go out and get them. They are engaging in very dangerous activities to do that.”
While acknowledging that there are calls across the country to defund police, he said, “The public has to understand, if we don’t support the police and their efforts, then nothing is going to change.”
Mr. Jones said he understands in the current climate, that there are questions about the conduct of police officers. His office, he said, regularly reviews the CPD’s activities, to maintain practices of constitutional policing, that are fair to all involved.
“They are doing a good job, and we have to support them, not criticize each and every thing that they do,” Mr. Jones said.
He thanked Sheriff James W. Phillips Jr., who he said has been very generous in providing deputies to assist. The Maryland State Police, he said, sent eight investigators to help with investigations.
The state’s attorney also spoke about those not from Cambridge who come here to break the law.
“I have received information that people come from out of town to Cambridge to create a lot of our problems. Salisbury, Delaware, Baltimore, it doesn’t matter. For whatever reason, people seem to think, from time to time, that this is the place to come to commit those crimes. I’m here to tell you, as the state’s attorney for Dorchester County, that’s a mistake. We will hold those persons accountable for those mistakes.”
Accounts of the incidents follow.

Stabbing
On Oct. 24 at approximately 12:10 a.m., officers from the Cambridge Police Department were dispatched to the 700 block of Douglas Street for a reported stabbing. Upon arrival, officers made contact with a male victim.
The victim had sustained one stab wound to the left side of his chest. The subject was taken to University of Maryland, Shore Medical Center at Dorchester where life-saving measures were unsuccessful and he succumbed to his injury.
Officers conducted multiple interviews and spoke with witnesses who advised that there was an altercation with the suspect who was identified. It was learned during those interviews that the suspect stabbed the victim, Roderick Lewis Russ, and left the scene prior to police arrival.
Charges have been filed against Ryshon Kelly, who now has an active arrest warrant for First-Degree Murder and other related charges. Anyone with information on the suspect’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Cambridge Police Department.
Cambridge Police Department Capt. Justin Todd urged the public to get involved and assist authorities in solving the crimes that are taking place in the city.

Double stabbing
In another incident, on Oct. 23 at 8:27 p.m., Rescue Fire Company crews, as well as Cambridge Police Department officers, responded to 518 Cedar St. for a report of multiple stabbings. One patient was transported to Peninsula Regional Medical Center, and one was brought to Dorchester General Hospital.
“We have a suspect,” Capt. Todd said. “One victim was stabbed in the head.” Her injuries were not severe.
Another female was cut in the right hand. “However, both of them are ok,” he said.
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of the suspect, whose name will not be released because she is a juvenile. She is charged with attempted first-degree murder and related charges.

Sunday shooting
In the early hours of Sunday morning, another incident occurred. A search is underway for a suspect as Maryland State Police continue their investigation into the killing of a Delaware man.
​The victim is identified as Khalil St. Croxie Reid, 21, of Laurel, Delaware. Reid was pronounced deceased at an area hospital after being found with apparent gunshot wounds in a parking lot. His body has been transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.
​Shortly after midnight this morning, the Cambridge Police Department received a report for shots fired in a parking lot in the 600 block of Chesapeake Court in Cambridge. Upon their arrival, officers from the Cambridge Police Department found the victim lying on the ground in a grassy parking area with apparent gunshot wounds. EMS personnel transported him to University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Dorchester where hospital personnel pronounced him deceased.
​The Maryland State Police Homicide Unit was requested to respond and take the lead on this investigation. Additional assistance is being provided by State Police Criminal Enforcement Division investigators, as well as detectives and officers from the Cambridge Police Department. State Police crime scene technicians processed the shooting scene.
​The preliminary investigation indicates the victim was in the area where he was found by police when he was shot by an unknown assailant with an unknown type of firearm. A suspect description is not known at this time.
​Investigators conducted neighborhood checks and interviewed witnesses and residents in the area throughout the day. Crime scene evidence has been transported to the State Police Forensic Sciences Division crime laboratory for analysis, a report from the Maryland State Police said Sunday evening.
​Anyone with information about this murder is urged to contact Maryland State Police at the Easton Barrack at 410-822-3101. Calls will remain confidential. The investigation continues.

Armed Robbery
On Oct. 20 at approximately 9 p.m., Cambridge Police officers were dispatched in reference to a robbery in the 800 block of Phillips Street. Officers met with the male victim who had minor injuries to his knees, arms and wrist, a statement from the CPD said Tuesday.
The victim advised that he was a delivery driver and had a food order to deliver in the in 800 block of Phillips Street. When he arrived and exited his vehicle a group of juveniles crowded him and his vehicle.
One of the juveniles approached the victim and demanded money, at which time the subjects stole keys, a cellphone, money and the food that he was delivering. One suspect then jumped in the victim’s vehicle and drove off. Officers were able to locate the vehicle nearby.

Carjacking
On Oct. 21, Cambridge Police received a phone call from a different restaurant, saying they had received a suspicious phone call from someone attempting to have a delivery to the 800 block of Phillips Street. Officers then quickly conducted an undercover operation and acted as the delivery driver, a statement from the department said.
Once on Phillips Street, a male juvenile approached the vehicle, opened the passenger-side door and grabbed the food, then attempted to flee.
The male juvenile was arrested and charged with robbery, carjacking, assault and other related charges. He has been turned over to juvenile services.
Investigation revealed that an adult male was also involved in the previous robbery on Oct. 20. An arrest warrant was obtained for Brandon I. Williams, 25 of Cambridge for motor vehicle theft, second-degree assault, and related charges. Williams is currently being held in the Dorchester County Detention Center.

Armed Robbery
On Oct. 22 at approximately 7:10 p.m., Cambridge Police responded to the 400 block of Linden Avenue in reference to an armed robbery. Officers made contact with the victim, who advised that he was supposed to meet someone in reference to buying an Xbox1. The victim advised that he did not know who the subject was, however, he had decided to meet and give the seller money.
The victim advised that after waiting for some time he was approached by four juveniles, at which time one of the juveniles pointed a handgun at the him. He was then beaten in the head and face area with an object.
The victim was seriously injured and was transported to the local hospital. This investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Cambridge Police Department at 410-228-3333.

Statistics
So far in 2020, there have been 120 aggravated assaults, Capt. Todd said in a conversation with the Banner on Monday. These include crimes such as murder, rape and first-degree assault. In all of 2019, there were 87, and in all of 2018, 98.
“We’ve had 16 stabbings in 2020,” Capt. Todd said. “And 12 shootings that involved victims.”
Burglaries, however, are down 58 percent from last year, while motor vehicle thefts are already at 34, with the total from the previous two full years at only 19.
“Across our nation, unfortunately, there is a general sense of lawlessness,” Mr. Jones said, adding that police officers are often treated with great disrespect. “In a civilized society, we all have to treat each other with respect. Then, things will be safe again.”