Crime & Courts

Police announce plan to combat violent crime after seven homicides in 10 days

In the past 10 days, Wichita has seen seven homicides, bringing the year’s total to 35 homicides. Last year, 34 homicides occurred.

“We have seen an upward trend in violent crimes in Wichita over the last few years,” Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay said Monday.

While the crimes are violent, he said the department has noticed three major trends regarding the homicides:

▪ They are not random. In an overwhelming majority, Ramsay said the victims and suspects knew each other.

▪ The homicides are often tied to drugs.

▪ Many homicides are the result of an argument, oftentimes fueled by social media.

The breakdown of the 35 homicides is:

▪ 10 were argument related

▪ Eight were domestic related

▪ Six had an unknown suspect

▪ Five were related to a robbery

▪ Three were gang related

▪ Two involved officers

▪ One was an accident

More than half of the homicides included a handgun. The weapons:

▪ Handguns were used in 21 out of 35 homicides

▪ Knives were used in four homicides

▪ Rifles were used in three homicides

▪ Shotguns were used in two homicides

▪ Physical assault resulted in two homicides

▪ A blunt object was used in two homicides

▪ A vehicle was used in one homicide

Moving forward

In an effort to combat violent crimes, Ramsay said the department is bringing back three teams that will target what he called problem areas and problem people in Wichita. The teams were part of a pilot program from May to August, and they made 375 arrests.

Now, the department is looking at using the teams long term because of the earlier success.

“We see these increasing numbers, and it was time to look at and evaluate on, ‘Were we being effective?’ ” Ramsay said.

The teams will start work after Jan. 1.

The first team of 10 uniformed officers will work on drug complaints in residential neighborhoods and will respond to violent crimes throughout the city. The second team of 12 officers will initiate and be proactive in the investigations of known violent offenders. They will also focus on violent street gangs and respond to violent crimes. A third, 16-person team will work with community policing teams.

A request for help

Police listed 10 open homicide cases where the department needs the public’s help to solve them.

“You got to remember, with violent crimes we count on the community to come forward and help us with tips in solving these crimes,” Ramsay said. He said it is very rare that they solve a case without any witness statements or people providing the officers with information.

The 2017 homicides listed by the police that have not been solved are:

▪  Bernadino Ornelas, 24, who died after a vehicle pulled alongside his vehicle at the intersection of 18th and Market on Jan. 9 and fired several gunshots at him and a passenger.

▪  Sandra Flores, 26, who was found dead in a strip mall parking lot at Pawnee and Seneca on March 17. Police think she was hit by a high-powered rifle while she was taking a morning walk.

▪  James Walker III, 31, was standing outside of a home in the 1200 block of South Minneapolis on April 9 when a group of people arrived and opened fire. He was struck several times.

▪  Stanislaus Saiz, 56, who was killed when he was shot several times while sitting in his car in front of his home in the 600 block of North Edwards on April 16. Police think someone on foot fired at him.

▪  Arthur Goebel, 66, who was shot during a confrontation after an intruder broke into his home in the 2300 block of East MacArthur on July 16. Goebel’s wife called 911.

▪  Houng Pham, 62, and her 23-year-old son, Cody Ha, who were found shot to death in their home in the 7500 block of East Huntington on Nov. 25. Witnesses have said prescription drugs had been sold from the home.

▪  Hasan Rahman, 26, a mechanical engineering student at Wichita State University, who was working as a Pizza Hut delivery driver. He was fatally shot and left in the trunk of his car. His car was found Nov. 26 in the 7800 block of East Pagent.

▪  Daniel Lopez-Silva, 32, who was found about 4:30 a.m. Sunday lying in the driveway of a house in the 4000 block of South Stearman. He had been shot several times and died at a hospital. Police said an unknown person pulled up to the house in a vehicle in the early-morning hours and started shooting.

▪  Rolando Holt, 26, was found dead in the 2600 block of East Wilma, where he had been visiting friends. Police said unknown men entered the house shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday and began shooting at Holt.

Those with information regarding any of the homicides are urged to contact the Wichita Police Department’s homicide division at 316-268-4182.

Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker

Kaitlyn Alanis: 316-269-6708, @kaitlynalanis