Rash of murders has community stepping up

POSTED: Friday, April 1, 2011 - 3:14pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am

WACO --  Four murders in less than three weeks in Waco, and police are saying we've already matched last year's homicide numbers.

Now, community leaders like Pastor Sandra King say it's time to take back their neighborhoods.

"It's been past time. It's been more than enough because one is way too many," said King. "Now, it's been more and more, and it's time for us to come together."

Out of the five murdered, one victim was 70-year-old James Gonzalez. He was found dead in his apartment at Riverpark Apartments in January.

In March, 17-year- old Nathan Romo was shot at Guthrie Park. Friends say he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Police arrested 17-year-old Leonard Trey Nino and 28-year-old Willie Contreras for the shooting.

Another shooting in the 2800 block of 24th St. left 28-year-old Timothy Smith dead. Police say his mother's boyfriend, Tony Sanders, shot him. Sanders is in the hospital after being severely beaten by Smith's uncle, Marvin Smith.

Just this week, 17-year-old Tyus Sneed and 20-year-old Keenan Hubert were killed at the Lakewood Villas. Two other men, 22-year-old Marion Bible and 20-year -old Deontrae Majors, were shot in the same shooting. Police haven't made arrests, but suspect several shooters were involved.

This leaves Pastor King worried for her young grandchildren.

"Bullets have no names, and I don't want them to be in a place where they're innocent bystanders and something happen to them," said King.

Friends of Tyus Sneed say he was just that: an innocent bystander. Now, there's talk of retaliation at the high schools.

We spoke to several adults in the community. They tell us youth are coming to them saying they're scared..

"The most troubling thing is that they're afraid that they're going to be next. They're afraid to talk. They're afraid to say what's really going on. They're afraid to express themselves for fear of retaliation," said King.

That's why King and other leaders have organized a vigil: to mourn the victims and let local youth feel safe to express their concerns.

Sgt. Patrick Swanton with Waco police agrees communities have to reach out to these teens to guide them.

"They have to take stand. The police department cannot do it on their own, and I think it's a fantastic thing to see the community leaders stepping up on this, to see the neighborhood associations, to see the citizens in that area react like they have," said Sgt. Swanton.

Police say they aren't sure why the recent rash of murders because they are random and unpredictable. They do say more and more information is starting to come in on the latest double murder.

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