City nears last year's record homicide rate

(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's been a violent few days in Memphis, unfortunately pacing right alongside the city's 2016 homicide rate. Last year ended with 228 homicides - the highest on record.

The violence picked up its pace Saturday after the city saw its 75th homicide of the year.

In Raleigh, a man was dropped off at Methodist North Hospital where he later died as a result of a gunshot wound.

Early Sunday morning, good Samaritan and Air Force veteran Devin Wilson was shot and killed at a Whitehaven IHOP on Shelby Drive while trying to defuse a domestic dispute.

Tony Awward, a clerk at Boost Mobile, which is located near the intersection of Winchester and Millbranch Road, was shot and killed Monday evening in what was believed to be a robbery attempt.

Two men were also shot and killed Monday night at the Sycamore Lake Apartment Complex in a botched drug deal.

A man was shot and killed on Chadwick Circle by a known suspect on Tuesday. That suspect remains on the run.

Figures released from Memphis Police Department show our homicide numbers are very close to 2016's numbers. There are 75 criminal homicides already this year, which is compared to the 78 on record at this time last year.

The total number of homicides, including justified killings, is 80 this year in comparison to 86 last year.

In a podcast this week, Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings brought more attention to MPD's critical understaffing by saying 2,500 police officers are needed on city streets. Right now, the department has 1,943.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Tuesday that his administration is working to add new recruits to the department, but it will take time and money.

"When I was first elected to council in 2008, we had roughly 2,000 officers. In four years, we got up to 2,452. So, I think it's going to take four or five years to get up to where -- I think it's going to take several years to get to 2,300 and who knows beyond that," Strickland said.

Raises of 1 and 2 percent, based on seniority, have been proposed for MPD officers. Bonuses for recruitment and retention have also been proposed.

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