Bayou City nears 100 homicides in 2021 with spike in violent killings

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Bayou City is about to hit a grim milestone of 100 homicides this year. That's up from 75 homicides at the same last year, according to the Houston Police Department.

Many families are continuing to search for justice long after they've lost their loved one.

A gunman shot and killed 34-year-old Rene Cantu back in Nov. 2020. A white cross near the corner of Montrose Boulevard and Richmond Avenue marks the spot where he laid lifeless.

His cousin-turned-sister Esmie Rodriguez said their family is still waiting for answers. Cantu's murder remains unsolved.

She reacted in pain on Saturday thinking of all the other families experiencing heartbreak after losing a loved one to violence.

"Every time I see someone dying every day, babies being abused, hurt, killed, I lay my hands on your picture and I pray," said Rodriguez. "I told Rene I was sorry, and I tell all the other ones who have become victims to senseless acts of violence that I'm sorry. I pray that they get their justice too because [their] family goes on hurting, grieving until there's justice. That's when the healing begins."

ABC13 questioned Mayor Sylvester Turner about the deadly first few months of 2021. Turner said HPD detectives are investigating and finding more of the suspects responsible for these killings. He's optimistic 2021 won't be as deadly, vowing that addressing the violence is the city's biggest priority.

"When I looked at the numbers, the clearance rate is already above 60 percent. That's a significant increase," said Turner. "Public safety is my number one priority. It's even my number one priority above COVID-19. That's priority number one. We're going to do everything on our part to make sure HPD, for example, has the resources they need. We're going to do everything we can to infuse resources and investments into these communities, such that it's not just one strategy but multiple strategies. Communities uplifting, and then law enforcement to bring down the crime."

Anyone with information on any of Houston's homicides can remain anonymous and report tips to Crimes Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS (8477) or online.

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