KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) It was a deadly year in Killeen, as police reported 22 homicides for 2017.
(Photo by Alex Cano)
Killeen police said 18 of the homicides are being investigated as murders, while four deaths were determined to be committed in self-defense.
2017 was the deadliest year for Killeen since a mass shooting at the Luby’s restaurant in 1991, where 24 died, including the gunman.
Out of the 18 murders in 2017, only six have been solved, Killeen police said.
Five of those cases were solved by arrest.
KPD Homicide Unit Sergeant Timothy Manges said about 2/3 of the homicides can be traced back to drug and gang activity, while the rest are related to domestic violence.
Manges said the increase in drug and gang activity has become a trend over the past few years.
The homicide unit has started working closely with KPD’s drug unit to solve and prevent these crimes, but Manges said detectives often hit dead ends in many cases because many people in the community aren’t willing to submit information.
"A lot of the public is just scared to come out and say what they know,” Manges said. “If they'll come talk to us, we'll do what we can to protect them, and the easiest way to protect them is to ultimately put the bad guys in jail."
Manges said he could not give an overall reason for the increased gang and drug violence.
He said this problem is affecting homicide, robbery, aggravated assault, and other violent crime statistics in the city.
Manges said along with the community’s support, a recently-announced partnership with the Department of Justice may help to bring violent crime numbers down.
"I only have 6 homicide detectives,” Manges said. “Stuff that they may spend two weeks doing, that we can have the Department of justice help us out with, frees up a lot of that time for them to conduct other parts of the investigation."