MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings says guns on the streets of Memphis are a major reason the city has seen a record number of homicides this year.
“We’re really alarmed at the type of guns and the high number of guns that are out there,” said Rallings.
Rallings appeared before the City Council’s public safety committee on Tuesday to give an update on violence in Memphis.
He said as of Tuesday morning, 248 homicides had occurred in Memphis this year.
Rallings says the guns criminals are using, many of them stolen from their owner’s vehicles, are designed to do a lot of damage.
“When we talk about the guns, we’re not just talking about a pistol. We’re talking about high caliber, high magazine capacity pistols, and rifles,” said Rallings. “AK47 type and AR15 type.”
Rallings says police have seized more than 3,000 guns this year compared to 2,500 last year.
“We think that when you look at the amount of firepower that’s on the streets, it is producing a higher number of casualties and more severe casualties,” said Rallings.
Rallings says gangs, drugs and domestic violence are also causing more homicides, but he says witnesses are not coming forward.
For instance, he says police are still searching for answers in the senseless killing of 16-year-old LeQuan Boyd and his six-year-old niece Ashlynn Luckett.
Both were killed during a drive-by shooting in Hickory Hill in January.
They’re among 28 child homicide victims this year.
“We do think that there’s less cooperation. We’ve seen a decline in people coming forward,” said Rallings.
Rallings says MPD has been hit hard by COVID-19, with over 700 employees testing positive or forced to quarantine, leading to a larger workload for investigators.
Councilman Jeff Warren says a violent crime task force is in the works with the goal of increasing the number of police officers.
“We’re really going to have to do everything we can to try to help them get more people in the police department,” said Warren.
Warren said more details would be released later.
Rallings says other cities are also seeing an increase in violent crime this year, not just Memphis.
He added that not all crime is up.
Property crimes like residential and business burglaries are down significantly.
The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the shooting of Boyd and Luckett. Call CrimeStoppers at 901-528-CASH if you have information.