161 people murdered in Memphis in 2016; same amount as all of 20 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

161 people murdered in Memphis in 2016; same amount as all of 2015

Mayor Jim Strickland (Source: WMC Action News 5) Mayor Jim Strickland (Source: WMC Action News 5)

After just 259 days of 2016, Memphis has seen the same number of murders as it saw in all of 2015.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland released a statement on his Facebook page Thursday morning confirming this truth and expressing his opinions on the matter.

Demetric Dobbs will never forget the moment she found out her fiancé, Kenny Griffin, was murdered.

"I was at work, and I just got a phone call that said that he was dead," Dobbs said. "The neighbors say they heard 8 to 10 shots, and that's all I know."

She had seen him a few hours earlier at her job, and he called her when he got home.

He was a father of three grown daughters; he did janitorial work in area schools.

"He was about to get his bachelor’s degree in a couple more months or so," Dobbs said.

He was going to be a social worker and help others, but now he's gone.

"It's very hard. Very hard. Can't sleep, can't eat, can't think," Dobbs said.

It's the same thing parents, siblings, sons and daughters of 160 other homicide victims are going through.

Albert Jenkins said it's proof violence has gotten out of control in Memphis.

"There just ain't enough to do in the city no more," Jenkins said. "Bring more jobs to the city. You know, that will help keep them out of the street."

Thursday night, Memphians were holding a vigil for Kenny Griffin, who became the city’s 158th homicide victim on Sunday.

"It's ridiculous,” Jerry Plunkett said. “I just see people acting like savages."

Plunkett said he is tired of shaking his head when he hears about another homicide. He said he misses the old days, when people worked out their differences.

"But now they just pick up a gun and destroy a person, and that's a final thing,” he said.

Shirley Anderson said when life loses value, things become out of control.

"Shooting each other like life doesn't even matter anymore,” Anderson said.

Thursday, Mayor Strickland defended his efforts to fight violent crime.

"What we're saying is we're doing everything we can, but I'm trying to be realistic to say that a significant drop may take time to realize,” Strickland said.

He said he’s increased community programming for young people to keep them off the streets, increased focus on fighting gangs and gang activity, and increased funding to recruit and retain police officers to get more cops on the streets.

Despite this, Strickland said he has no idea why the homicide rate has spiked so drastically, and he said nobody else does either.

"The homicide rate in 20-25 cities across the country has gone up, to the point where the FBI director has really started looking into it,” Strickland said.

He said 161 homicides is astounding and unacceptable. He keeps a journal with all the victims’ names and faces to remember them as people—not statistics.

He said it will take time to change things so he doesn’t have to keep adding to his journal.

"Homicides are the hardest to predict, which makes them the hardest to deter. So it's not just a policing problem. It's a societal problem,” he said.

Plunkett agrees; he said no matter how many police we have, officers cannot be everywhere. He said society has to work on fixing itself.

"We should be taking care of our own children. You know what I'm saying? We should be taking care of our own responsibilities,” Plunkett said. “And if we don't do that, we can't expect the government to take care of it."

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