Baltimore mayor fires police commissioner BALTIMORE – The Baltimore mayor fired the troubled city's police commissioner Wednesday, saying that a recent spike in homicides weeks after an unarmed black man died of injuries in police custody required a change in leadership. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake thanked Police Commissioner Anthony Batts for his service — and praised the job he had done — but said growing criticism of his leadership had become a "distraction" that was preventing the city from moving ahead. The numbers back up that scenario. From April 19 to the end of June, there were 80 homicides in Baltimore, nearly double the 42 committed during the same period last year, according to an NBC News analysis of city crime data through the first half of the year. By comparison, there were 53 homicides during that period in 2013, 48 in 2012, and 45 in 2011. There is a similar pattern among shootings. There were 171 people hit by gunfire between April 19 and the end of June, up from 77 in 2014. The year before, there were 103 during that period. In 2012, there were 77, and 88 in 2011. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, who was replaced Wednesday. Andrew Burton / Getty Images file Of the 154 murders so far this year, more than half occurred since theApril 19 death of Freddie Gray, who succumbed to injuries suffered while riding in the back of a police transport van. His death triggered looting and rioting and resulted in charges againstsix police officers.