Amarillo sees almost record-breaking rise in homicides in 2021

·2 min read
Flowers are tied to a signpost in a makeshift memorial for Laura Etta Ashley, who was killed during a string of five shootings on Labor Day last year, near the intersection of NW 15th Avenue and Monroe Street in Amarillo. According to Amarillo police, the city had a total of 27 homicides in 2021.
Flowers are tied to a signpost in a makeshift memorial for Laura Etta Ashley, who was killed during a string of five shootings on Labor Day last year, near the intersection of NW 15th Avenue and Monroe Street in Amarillo. According to Amarillo police, the city had a total of 27 homicides in 2021.

In the year 2021, Amarillo saw a rise in homicide rates.

“This isn't just here in Amarillo. This is a nationwide rise in crime and homicide,” said Amarillo Police Department Sgt. Carla Burr.

According to APD, the city had a total of 27 homicides in 2021.

Last year's rise in homicides is the most cases that Amarillo has seen in more than two decades. The highest number of cases in Amarillo history was in 1994 with a total of 28 cases, but the city had seen a rise equivalent to last year's numbers four years before that, in 1990 with 27 cases.

Laura Etta Ashley
Laura Etta Ashley

The 2021 total number of homicides is an 11-case difference from 2020, which had 16 homicides.

According to Sgt. Burr, Amarillo trends show that most of Amarillo homicide cases tend be domestic violence or drug related.

“Usually when we find out the cause, for here in Amarillo, it comes back to one of those two related reasons,” Burr said.

This was the same for most of last year's cases, except the Labor Day series of shootings and death of Laura Etta Ashley, when David Lee Winfield, 18, allegedly randomly targeted his victims and opened fire on them the morning and evening of Sept. 6.

Flowers are seen Saturday in a makeshift memorial for Laura Etta Ashley, who was killed during a string of shootings on Labor Day last year, near the intersection of NW 15th Avenue and Monroe Street in Amarillo. She had been shot while driving, police said.
Flowers are seen Saturday in a makeshift memorial for Laura Etta Ashley, who was killed during a string of shootings on Labor Day last year, near the intersection of NW 15th Avenue and Monroe Street in Amarillo. She had been shot while driving, police said.

More: Amarillo Police Chief Birkenfeld addresses violent crime, shootings in past week

According to police, Winfield shot at five individuals driving their vehicles, including a 17-year-old who was later taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and 62-year-old Ashley, who was shot and killed a block from her home.

“That was random. He didn’t pick those people. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Burr said.

Flowers are tied to a signpost in a makeshift memorial for Laura Etta Ashley, who was killed during a string of five shootings on Labor Day last year, near the intersection of NW 15th Avenue and Monroe Street in Amarillo. She had been shot while driving, police said. According to Amarillo police, the city had a total of 27 homicides in 2021.
Flowers are tied to a signpost in a makeshift memorial for Laura Etta Ashley, who was killed during a string of five shootings on Labor Day last year, near the intersection of NW 15th Avenue and Monroe Street in Amarillo. She had been shot while driving, police said. According to Amarillo police, the city had a total of 27 homicides in 2021.

According to APD’s Cpl. Jeb Hilton, all of the 2021 homicides involved deaths caused by gunshots. Most of these cases have been solved, with the exception of one case in 2020 and three cases in 2021.

APD previously stated that seven to 12 guns are stolen from unlocked vehicles every month in the city, and most if not all illegal guns are used in violent crimes.

Burr said that she anticipates that Amarillo will see a decrease in cases for the year of 2022.

Amarillo 2020 and 2021 homicide cases in comparison by month
Amarillo 2020 and 2021 homicide cases in comparison by month

2020 vs. 2021

Total number of homicides for each month in 2020:

January — 1

February — none

March — 2

April — 1

May — 1

June — 1

July — 3

August — 3

September — none

October — 4

November — none

December — none

Total number of homicides for each month in 2021:

January — 5

February — none

March — 6

April — 3

May — 2

June — 1

July — 2

August — none

September — 4

October — none

November — 3

December — 1

Source: Amarillo Police Department

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This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Amarillo sees highest number of homicides in over two decades in 2021

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