Crime & Courts

Homicide rates so far nearly doubled from 2017

Wichita police investigate a reported shooting near Oliver and Harry on Wednesday.
Wichita police investigate a reported shooting near Oliver and Harry on Wednesday. The Wichita Eagle

Homicides in Wichita this year have nearly doubled from the same time period in 2017.

From January to April 2017, eight people had been killed. Sixteen were killed in the same time period this year. Three additional people have been killed in May this year.

That means Wichita could be on track to have between 55 and 60 homicides in 2018, District Attorney Marc Bennett said at a recent Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting. Last year, 38 people were killed.

The city announced a plan to combat violent crime in December after seven people were killed in a 10-day period. At the time, police said they noticed three major trends regarding the homicides, and those trends appear to mimic this year's cases.

In an overwhelming majority of cases, the victims and suspects knew each other. The homicides are often tied to drugs and many of the homicides are the result of arguments — oftentimes fueled by social media, police said.

At least four of this year's cases were walk- or drive-by shootings. Fourteen of the homicides were shootings.

In general, police are seeing a lot of connections to crime and meth.

"Meth drives crime the way the crack drove crime in the early stages of my career," Bennett said recently. "We need to deal with that and we're trying to deal with that in the moment."

After the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting, Bennett said he ran numbers on how many cases his office is handling that deal with meth being found during the commission of another crime. In the small snapshot, he found 11 percent of the cases had ties to meth.

"Someone still had product in their pocket when they got caught doing their forgery or murder or rape or robbery or whatever crime they committed," he said. "That just struck me as a staggering number."

Part One crimes — violent offenses and property crimes that are reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation every year — are almost all on the rise.

From January to April in 2017 and 2018 — reported rapes have increased from 89 to 130, robberies went from 168 to 175 and aggravated assaults increased from 453 to 579 reported incidents. For property crimes, burglaries have increased from 853 to 869 and auto thefts from 616 to 749. Larcenies decreased from 4,686 to 4,291. The rise in reported rapes could be attributed to the new definition of rape that the FBI released last year.

  • The first and second homicides of the year happened when two people tried forcing their way into a house in the 1500 block of West Merton. The 18-year-old who fired the shots hasn’t been charged under the "stand your ground" law. Ky Jones Jr., and Jeremy Burdine, both 20, were killed. Police said the men tried forcing their way inside after a fight over property.

  • A woman was killed while in a home in the 700 block of North Edwards on Jan. 25. Police say a shooter targeted the house, but the woman wasn’t the intended target, police said. Investigators haven't said what prompted the drive-by shooting, other than it wasn't gang related.

  • Police are still looking for suspects in a drive-by shooting that killed 18-year-old Myranda Keck in the 1600 block of South Estelle in January. Keck was sitting in a car with her mother, 40, and boyfriend, 18, when shots were fired just before 2:30 a.m.

  • Multiple people have been arrested in the shooting death of 18-year-old Donte Devore in the 900 block of Pineridge in February. A group of people knocked on Devore's front door at 9 p.m. and were let in. He fought with one of the men, who fired multiple shots, police said.

  • A 19-year-old man who was shot during a drug deal in the Dillons parking lot at 135th and Maple died a month later. Christopher Coley was shot in the head at 2:45 a.m. on Feb. 19. Police later arrested Raymond Alvarez Jr. on suspicion of first-degree murder, robbery and gun charges.

  • Officers found 25-year-old Deontae Mitchell lying in front of a home in the 1600 block of South Faulders around 1 a.m. on Feb. 24. Douglas Carl Pete III, 22, was arrested. A fight happened between the two men shortly before the shooting, but police didn't release what it was about.

  • On Feb. 25, a man was shot multiple times outside of the Food Mart in the 1400 block of North Market. Javier Carbajal died in the shooting. Police said Carbajal was leaving the store when someone drove by and fired shots. Carbajal was the intended target, they said.

  • Former college basketball player Dwayne Brunson was fatally shot while inside Deuces Bar, 3105 N. Arkansas, around 2 a.m. on March 18. No arrests have been made in the shooting. Brunson was supposed to celebrate his son’s 3rd birthday later that day. Police say an altercation between several men led up to shots being fired.

  • Tyran Carter, 17, was shot in the 800 block of South Pershing on March 25. A 15-year-old boy has been arrested in his death.

  • On March 30, multiple shots were fired outside Sugar Creek apartments in the 2500 block of South Oliver. Darren Williams, 36, was killed after police say he and his girlfriend, 35, went to the complex to meet another man just before midnight. No arrests have been made.

  • The body of Leuh Moore, 37, was found inside a dumpster in the 1700 block of South Seneca by a homeless man. Her husband, Donnell Casey Danterio Stafford, 30, was arrested in Iowa. He has been extradited back to Kansas to face charges of first-degree murder and two counts of cruelty to animals.

  • The father of a 6-month-old boy was charged with first-degree murder after the boy died on April 10. Police say Dorl Callus Gwyn, 28, was rough housing and shadow boxing with the baby when the baby stopped breathing.

  • On April 17, a 40-year-old man was found with a gunshot wound in a home in the 2900 block of South Sayles just before 5 p.m. Emmitt Olson was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said several people were in the Planeview home when shots were fired. Neighbors told police that people come and go from the house at all times of the day and night, they said. No arrests have been made.

  • DeWayne Austin Cope, 30, was arrested almost two weeks after the April 18 killing of Trenton Custer. Custer was found by a neighbor dead of multiple gunshot wounds inside a mobile home in the 3800 block of South Meridian.

  • A 37-year-old man was killed just before 9 p.m. on April 29 after a gunfight in the 2400 block of North Prince. Police said the shooting was not random and the suspect and victim "have a history that goes back several years."

  • Just before noon on May 2, a 30-year-old man was shot while he walked in the 1700 block of Elpyco. Police said Bretodd Williams knew the man they say shot him — Emmanuel E. Reed, 31. Reed is in jail on suspicion of first-degree murder.

  • Later that same day, police say a 39-year-old man was found dead of apparent facial injuries inside a home in the 200 block of North Sabin. Bryce A. Martin, 29, was charged with meth distribution and aggravated battery in Jacob Healzer’s death.

  • Elizabeth Woolheater, 22, and her boyfriend, Lucas Diel, 25, were charged with first-degree murder on May 9 in the death of Woolheater's 2-year-old son, Tony Bunn.

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity. (Nicole L. Cvetnic / McClatchy)

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