WWII veteran murdered in his pajamas in crime-ridden Baltimore

In 2016 violent crime in Baltimore was up 22 percent and murders up 78 percent, according to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (AFP Photo/MICHELLE KWAJAFA)

Washington (AFP) - A 97-year-old World War II veteran has become the oldest homicide victim in crime-ridden Baltimore after he was beaten to death in his pajamas by burglars.

Wadell Tate was killed on July 21 inside the rowhouse he had owned and clung to for six decades, the Washington Post reported in its Wednesday edition, the latest victim of the persistent violence plaguing the port city.

Baltimore, just an hour's drive northeast of the US capital, has seen 211 people killed this year, according to city figures.

"They took away his right to die on his own," Tate's 65-year-old daughter Sylvia Swann told the Post.

Baltimore, a city of 2.8 million, is troubled by drug use, poverty and racial tensions.

Though Tate's neighborhood had grown increasingly blighted, he refused to leave his home, taking evening strolls and chatting with neighbors from his porch.

In 2016 violent crime in Baltimore was up 22 percent and murders up 78 percent, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Even the police spokesman's younger brother was found fatally shot at his home last month.

Over the weekend activists called for a 72-hour ceasefire, holding rallies and vigils. Nevertheless, two people were killed.

There is little trust between residents and the police as Baltimore struggles with the aftermath of rioting in 2015 following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray after being picked up by police.

Gray suffered a severed spine injury that resulted in death while being transported in the back of a police van with his hands and feet bound.

In April, a federal judge approved a consent decree requiring the Baltimore police to implement sweeping reforms.

The Baltimore city government and police agreed on the decree last year, but the administration of President Donald Trump, promising to empower police to crack down on crime, has sought to delay and modify it.

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