Austin’s murder rate up nearly 80 percent compared to 2015

Shooting on East Sixth Street at San Jacinton on July 31, 2016 left one person dead. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
Shooting on East Sixth Street at San Jacinto on July 31, 2016 left one person dead. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Three homicides in the past 10 days. According to data from the Austin Police Department, the city’s murder rate is up nearly 80 percent from the same time last year.

The Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday believes this upward trend is something the department needs to tackle immediately.

“All you have to do is turn on the news. It seems like every night for the past several weeks its led off with shootings in north and east Austin,” said Casaday of the deadly shootings. “It reminds me of, back in the 80s and 90s, when we had a huge crime wave here in Austin.”

Of the 23 murders so far in 2016, five are unsolved.

Robert Morales Jr. was murdered in 2014 but his family says they’re still searching for answers to his death after three suspects were arrested and charged but released last summer.

“He was a family guy… he lived for us… all of us,” Veronica Sanchez said of her brother. “We have families growing, we have ones that are pregnant, it’s hard. It’s hard for us to continue being happy when we’re really not complete.”

“We lost my brother because he was murdered. We lost him because somebody threw him on the side of the road and left him there like a dog. We lost him in a manner that no one should have to die,” Sanchez said.

APD Open Murder Cases

  • 2011: 2 out of 27
  • 2012: 1 out of 33
  • 2013: 3 out of 26
  • 2014: 6 out of 32
  • 2015: 3 out of 23
  • 2016: 5 out of 23

Her brother’s murder is something she remembers every day but has to relive every week she reaches out to a list of agencies for answers.

“Everything that I felt the day that they came and knocked on my door, all of that comes back because that’s all we have, we don’t have anything else,” Sanchez said crying. “There’s no one locked up. Nobody is in jail for his murder. Nobody calls us, nobody contacts us.”

Morales’ murder is one of six in 2014 that remains unsolved, or open. APD says there are cases in which suspects are identified, but the department is still working on charges.

For Sanchez, when another person is killed in Austin, she’s worried her brother’s case gets put on hold. “I think to myself and I’ve said it more than once, there goes my brother pushed to the back. We don’t forget. They leave families with no answers, they leave families that are heartbroken, they leave families that are not complete.”

While Morales rests in peace, his family continue to search for justice and peace of their own. Police says it’s working closely with law enforcement partners to solve Morales’ murder.

APA says the rise in recent murders is just one more reason APD needs more officers, something city council will address at a budget work session on Wednesday.

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