In a news conference Wednesday, Baltimore Mayor Jack Young pleaded with residents to stop shooting each other so that the city's limited number of hospital beds could be used to treat those suffering from COVID-19.
His plea came alongside a declaration of emergency in Baltimore as the city reported its fifth confirmed coronavirus case and is experiencing evidence of a growing community spread.
"I want to reiterate how completely unacceptable the level of violence is that we have seen recently," Young said, according to WJZ-TV. "We will not stand for mass shootings and an increase in crime."
Baltimore has seen an uptick in violence since Friday, according to city Commissioner Michael Harrison. The violence included a mass shooting Tuesday night that resulted in seven victims needing to be transported to hospitals and are in serious but stable condition.
"For those of you who want to continue to shoot and kill people of this city, we're not going to tolerate it," Young said. "We're going to come after you and we're going to get you."
"We cannot clog up our hospitals and their beds with people that are being shot senselessly because we're going to need those beds for people infected with the coronavirus," the mayor argued. "And it could be your mother, your grandmother or one of your relatives. So take that into consideration."
Interestingly, despite the increased violence, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby has taken action to suspend criminal prosecution in the city in order to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spread in prisons.
Mosby ordered her staff Wednesday to drop pending criminal charges against anyone who has been arrested for drug possession, prostitution, trespassing, minor traffic offenses, open container, and public urination.
"An outbreak in prison or jails could potentially be catastrophic," she wrote to staff. "Now is not the time for a piecemeal approach where we go into court and argue one by one for the release of at-risk individuals."
The actions taken by the two city officials appears to send a mixed message. The city is calling for an end to violent crime while at the same time announcing that it will not be punishing several crimes.