Memphians see increase in springtime crime

"That's her when she was a baby," says Mario Williams as he looks at a photo of his daughter.

He can't help but light up when he speaks of her.

"A wonderful little joyful little soul--she loved to make people smile," says Williams.

He last saw two year-old Jakiria Lewis Thursday night as she went to visit friends with her mother. She was shot in the head by a suspected drive-by shooter a short time later.

"It's not hurting me that she died--it's hurting me how she died, that's how it's hurting me," says Williams.

Jakiria was the 48th murder victim in Memphis this year. Two more happened over the weekend. Police say a man was shot in his car Saturday at a South Memphis convenience store. Another man was shot and killed late Sunday when police say a fight at the Pepper Tree apartments got out of hand. Yet another murder Monday night brings the number to 51 so far this year. There were 37 this time last year. That's up more than 30 percent.

"Only thing it says for certain is we've seen a significant increase in homicides so far this year," says Lt. Toney Armstrong with MPD Homicide.

The homicide bureau keeps track of every murder on a dry-erase board.

"There's no rhyme or reason to why we have so few some months and so many in other months," says Armstrong.

Mario Williams is glad his daughter's suspected killer in behind bars. He hopes her murder sends a message.

"This should be a message to everybody--just stop the violence!" says Williams.

Here's a little more information on the city's murder rate: There were 153 in all of 2005. The record was set in 1993 with 213 murders.