Fort Worth

Fort Worth responds to spike in crime: ‘We needed to do something, so we moved quickly’

Homicides are up about 19 percent in Fort Worth this year, but the rate has slowed since a spike over the first three months of the year, according to police statistics.

As of this week, there had been 38 homicides in the city, up from 32 at this time last year.

By comparison, Dallas had seen an increase through May of about 4.5 percent, from 67 homicides during that period in 2016 to 70 homicides this year. Arlington is on pace with 2016, from 13 homicides at this point last year to 12 this year, said Lt. Chris Cook, police spokesman.

Fort Worth’s homicides increased 69 percent from January through March, rising from 13 to 22, according to Assistant Chief Kenneth Dean, who presented first-quarter crime statistics to the City Council last week.

“That’s a significant increase,” Dean told council members.

Sex offenses and aggravated assault also increased during the first three months, rising 24 percent and 15 percent, respectively, according to the statistics. In response, Fort Worth police formed a Violent Crime Task Force, deploying more officers in high-crime areas at night from Wednesday through Sunday.

“We needed to do something, so we moved quickly,” Dean said.

The homicide rate remains higher than last year, when there were 66 homicides, but it’s now less alarming for officials.

“We may be up year-to-date, but it’s still in the range of how many we had in 2016,” Lt. Paula Fimbres, Fort Worth police spokeswoman, said Tuesday.

The numbers haven’t signified a trend yet, Fimbres said, though investigators believe several recent Fort Worth homicides have been drug-related, including a shooting that left two dead and five injured in southeast Fort Worth on June 9. No other details about the case have been released and no arrests have been made.

The shooting prompted a candlelight vigil at the Tarrant County Courthouse, where a small crowd talked about possible solutions and prayed for victims of violence citywide. Donnell Ballard, a Fort Worth activist who attended the vigil, said gun violence in the city is as bad as he’s ever seen it.

“It’s gotten to the point now where I’m afraid to sleep in my bed because I’m afraid of a bullet coming through my window,” Ballard said.

Of the 38 homicides in Fort Worth this year, 32 have been shootings, according to the police statistics.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram