City of Houston notes crime drop but rocketing murder rate cause for concern

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- As of 6pm Tuesday, July 21, Houston went 72 hours and 25 minutes without a murder. It is an accomplishment in a year when a Houston has been killed on average every 30 hours.

When the Houston Police Department released crime statistics for the first six months of 2015, the department claimed an overall 6.2 percent drop in serious crime. According to HPD home burglaries are down 19 percent, car burglaries down 10 percent. Overall, violent crime dropped 2 percent this year.

It is good news and means fewer Houstonians are being victimized, but a disturbing rise in the murder rate cannot be ignored. In the first 6 months of 2014, there were just 100 murder victims. This year in the same time period, there were 144. The deadly number has since risen to 162 as of Tuesday.

"There is no pattern or trend," HPD Chief Charles McClelland told reporters.

McClelland pointed to a nationwide trend and recent media reports show similar rises across the country. Houston's is one of the most severe.

On reflection, McClelland told reporters, "For us to be, in my opinion, the most civilized nation in the world, our gun violence is off the charts. I understand this is Texas and I appreciate the 2nd Amendment, but we have to do something about gun violence in this country."

An ABC-13 review of HPD press releases shows at least 87 of the 162 murders were gun-related. That number is likely higher as the cause of death is not always noted in a press release.

HPD spokespeople said McClelland does not have a specific plan or any announcements on gun-violence reducing initiatives.

Derrick Hampton may. Hampton watched his son die feet away from him on July 11th of this year. Shaquille Trayveon King, 20, was shot after an argument at his north side apartment complex.

"There need to be more stipulations on carrying a firearm," Hampton told Eyewitness News.

Hampton, a gun owner himself, said young Houstonians don't fear or understand the consequences of carrying a gun.

"Youngsters think having a gun is just a game. They (police) need to set an example to where it would make a youngster think twice before putting a gun in their hand," he said.

Asked if he thinks young Houstonians have a fear of being caught with a firearm, Hampton said, "None."

The city's full explanation of crime statistics for the first half of 2015 can be found here:
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