Crime & Courts

March 22, 2014

One-fourth of killings in Sedgwick County since 1989 happened in 7 census tracts

Since 1989 five people have been shot to death at the southwest corner of 13th and Hillside.

Since 1989 five people have been shot to death at the southwest corner of 13th and Hillside.

A mile to the west, five more people have been killed at a gas station at 13th and Hydraulic. Just south of the gas station is an American Legion lodge where four people have died.

A mile east of the nightclub, at 13th and Oliver, is a QuikTrip where three people have been killed.

Over the past 25 years, nearly 800 people have been murdered in Sedgwick County, but the slayings have not been spread evenly across the city.

Seven census tracts – a six-square-mile area northeast of downtown Wichita that is home to 3.4 percent of the county’s population – have been the scene of more than a fourth of the county’s killings.

The seven tracts, which are some of the poorest in the county, were the site of 209 homicides from 1989 through 2013, including the 17 that occurred at the nightclub, the gas station, the American Legion and the QuikTrip.

The figures come from a list of homicide cases that The Wichita Eagle has maintained over the years.

Although the list is no indication of where the city’s violence spots are today, it offers a historical look at where the city’s homicides have occurred over the years. More than a fourth of the homicides on the list occurred from 1992 through 1995, years that saw the emergence in Wichita of crack cocaine, drive-by shootings and gang violence.

There has been no clear pattern to the homicides that have occurred over the past five years. Four of the 120 homicides have occurred on North Broadway between Murdock and 21st Street, but they have not been clustered in one area.

Leaving the past behind

Timothy Cook, who runs a barber shop and hair salon at 13th and Hillside, said his block shows how a neighborhood can put a history of violence behind it. He works next to the building at 3105 E. 13th St. that has recorded five homicides over the years.

“You can’t deny the past of 13th Street, but as the saying goes, all things change with time, and I’m that change,” he said.

The bar where most of the homicides occurred closed two years ago, Cook said. Also, the block is no longer the home of the Phat Azz Bikes club, which was in the news recently when a woman was shot to death at an after-hours party at the club’s new location at 1002 N. Cleveland.

The NAACP now has an office in Cook’s building, he said, and a pawn shop will soon be opening in the vacant building where five homicides occurred.

“There’s nothing negative over here anymore,” he said.

Cook said he still offers $5 haircuts to students and is doing his best to make sure his block is family friendly.

Wichita Deputy Police Chief Hassan Ramzah said there’s no way to predict where a homicide will occur.

“Violence can occur anywhere. We live in a very mobile society,” he said.

When a spate of violence does occur in a specific part of town, he said, there are a variety of tools police can use. He said the best strategies always involve the residents and businesses in the neighborhood where the violence has occurred.

“It has to be a partnership approach,” he said.

Mapping the homicides

Plot the 785 homicides on a ZIP code map and a pattern quickly emerges.

ZIP code 67214, with 217 homicides, has recorded more murders than the next four ZIP codes combined. The ZIP code covers an area roughly from Douglas north to 21st and Broadway east to Hillside. By comparison, 67202, a much smaller ZIP code that covers the core area of downtown Wichita, had 15 homicides.

When plotted on a census tract map, the results are similar.

The census tracts that run roughly from Broadway east to Oliver and Central north to 21st, account for 27 percent of the county’s homicides over the past 25 years. The 2010 census counted 16,155 people living in those tracts, and the median household income was $20,657, about 38 percent of the countywide average.

Over the 25-year period, the area recorded one homicide for every 79 residents. The county as a whole recorded one per 642 residents.

You could map the homicides down to the census block level, but the results would be skewed by two quadruple homicides that occurred in 2000. The first occurred on Dec. 7 when Cornelius Oliver shot four teens to death in a house at 1144 N. Erie. The second occurred on Dec. 15 when Jonathan and Reginald Carr shot four young adults in a soccer field near K-96 and Greenwich.

The quadruple homicides notwithstanding, none of Sedgwick County’s 239,684 census blocks recorded as many homicides as the block at the southwest corner of 13th and Hydraulic, which has recorded nine over the years.

The business at 1649 E. 13th St. is a restaurant today, but it was a Vickers station on Jan. 6, 1993, when cousins Willis Bumphas Sr. and Ronald Brown, both 30, were shot to death by Herschel Ricks after a brief argument.

It was still a Vickers on July 4, 1993, when Maurice Whitfield, 25, was shot by William Butler during a fight over a woman. It was a Total service station on Oct. 25, 1997, when Lionel Smith, 17, and Curtis Smith, 20, were shot to death as they got out of a car. That case remains unsolved.

Just south of the restaurant, the American Legion at 1335 N. Hydraulic has been the scene of four homicides over the years. On Aug. 26, 1990, Manuel Young, 18, was shot during a parking lot quarrel in a killing that was ruled justifiable. On Dec. 4, 1993, Joe Spires, 25, was shot in the parking lot by a known suspect who wasn’t charged. On Oct. 3, 1992, David Thomas, 21, was shot while driving with a friend outside the club. On Nov. 28, 2004, Michael R. Vann, 26, was shot while standing outside at closing time. Those last two cases were never solved.

A mile east of those businesses, at the southwest corner of 13th and Hillside, is a block that has seen five homicides.

The building at 3105 E. 13th St. housed Memories nightclub on Dec. 16, 1992, when Fort Riley soldier Joseph Mazyck, 22, was shot by Cornelius Johnson. It was the Antler Room on Feb. 23, 2001, when Marcus Cox, 23, and Jarvis Kinnard, 24, were shot inside the club. On Sept. 9, 2004, Cortenna Trigg, 30, was shot in the parking lot of the Antler Room. Those two cases remain unsolved. On May 7, 2011, Mario Brown, 22, was shot by Travis Knighten while attending an after-hours party in the parking lot. Today the building is vacant.

The QuikTrip at 1414 N. Oliver has been the scene of three homicides over the years. On Oct. 7, 1995, 2-year-old Brentashia Smith was killed in a gang-related shooting that sent the shooter, Corey Gholston, to prison to serve a Hard 40 prison sentence. On April 17, 2003, Temeka Bryant, 24, was stabbed to death inside the store after attacking a 19-year-old woman. Prosecutors said the killing was justified. On July 17, 2004, Cornelius Golston, 29, was shot in the parking lot during a confrontation with Conqual Lewis, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

The building at 2600 S. Oliver has been the site of four homicides over the years, three of which occurred in July 2003 when Clint C. Jones, 30, Oscar Ramirez, 27, and Nicolas Ramirez, 22, were shot to death in Club Mexico. Club owner Arturo Garcia, who tried to burn the bodies in a Cowley County field, was sentenced to more than 100 years in prison. The business was called Club Dreamz on July 24, 2005, when Melvin Jackson Jr., 19, was shot outside the club during a private party. A 25-year-old suspect in that shooting was charged with murder, but the case was dismissed. The building today is vacant.

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