SAN ANTONIO (AP) — San Antonio police say they investigated 151 homicides in 2016, marking the deadliest year in the Alamo city in more than two decades.READ MORE: 19-Year-Old Tello Hernandez Faces Intoxication Manslaughter Charge Following Fatal Crash
The homicide count — up 61 percent from a year ago — is the highest since 142 homicides were reported in 1995. Last year, the tally was 94. Figures show that about 40 percent of the killings were related to drugs or connected to families or acquaintances.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of spontaneous murders,” Police Chief William McManus told the San Antonio Express-News. “It’s really difficult to put a reason on it.”
Police said they won’t have the number of solved homicide cases for 2016 until later this month, but they said gang activity attributed for about 3 percent of homicides and drug activity for 14 percent.READ MORE: Homeowner Terry Duane Turner Charged In Slaying Of Motorist Adil Dghoughi In His Driveway
Homicides in other major Texas cities have been trending upward as well. The number of violent deaths in Austin reached the highest in nearly 20 years when police last week investigated the city’s 39th homicide, the most since 1997. Like San Antonio, overall violent crime also is up in Austin.
McManus said his police department will address the homicide increase through community involvement and new tactics to be disclosed this month. The chief noted that “arresting the problem away” or “over policing” could just lead to distrust.
City Councilman Roberto Trevino, who represents one of the districts with high homicide numbers, says a focus should be placed on services for domestic abuse victims. He also said it’s crucial to have Spanish translation services for residents.
A majority of the San Antonio homicide victims were Hispanic and African-American men between ages 18 and 29. Twenty-three women and girls were killed, all but five of them Hispanic.MORE NEWS: Dallas Neighborhood Crime Spike Has Many Questioning, 'Is Uptown Going Downhill?'
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