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