Homicide rates up in Roanoke

Year-over-year homicides are up by two, on track to outpace yearly average

ROANOKE, Va. – A homicide investigation of a missing woman. Another Roanoke woman remains unfound. The death of a man killed in an armed robbery: Violent crimes are in the headlines, and Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea is taking notice.

"We are concerned with what's going on. You see the senseless shootings that are occurring in our community and the violence against women," Lea told WSLS 10 in a one-on-one interview.

Not even halfway through 2017, police in Roanoke have investigated six homicides. According to data provided by the police department, this time last year there were only four. Statistically, the city is on track to outpace the current homicide average rate of nine people a year, and it's only May.

"I'm just really concerned with the senseless violence that is taking place and the amount of guns on people walking around in this community ... most of them are illegal guns," Lea said.

Data shows more violent crimes happen during summer months as more people are outdoors.

Lea says he's working on a plan with Roanoke City police to help curb that violence.
That plan includes revamping a domestic violence task force, as well as community youth programs such as the basketball camps implemented in Melrose and southeast neighborhoods that dropped the crime rate in that area. Lea says he wants to take action now to avoid violence becoming a social norm.

"I’m just concerned that I don't want our community and I don't want the criminal justice system to become immune to what is happening. After a while there's a shooting over there, there's a shooting over there. Every life counts," Lea said, adding he wants more lives saved in the future.


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