EL PASO, Texas - Major cities across the state of Texas have seen an increase in homicides, while El Paso merely experienced minor fluctuations.
El Paso saw a minor increase with 18 homicides in 2016, compared to 16 in the year prior. "I think it pretty much remains constant throughout the last couple of years," Sgt. Enrique Carrillo said.
Carrillo says El Paso is unique compared with other cities because of three main factors: "One, our leadership. The officers know they are supported. They know that the chief of police will support them." The other two factors include he community's support and the willingness to report crime without withholding information, Carillo said.
Other cities in Texas experienced an increase in homicides that they haven't seen in decades. The number of violent deaths in 2016 for Austin was the highest in nearly 20 years. The city racked up 39 homicides, the most since 1997 in Texas' capital city.
Austin police tell the Austin American-Statesman no one particular cause can be tied to the jump in crime, but the department says Austin's exponential population growth may be a factor.
San Antonio police say they investigated 151 homicides in 2016. The year's total makes it the deadliest year in the Alamo City in more than two decades. The alarming number went up 61 percent from the year prior. Police Chief William McManus told the San Antonio Express-News one-fourth of the killings are spontaneous. Figures show about 40 percent of the killing have been related to drugs or connected to families or acquaintances.
"When you consider the ratio of the number of people here to the number of homicides compared to other cities it is very low," Carrillo said.
Carrillo said a lot of the homicides in El Paso can normally be attributed to domestic violence situations.
That was not the case in 2016, "A lot of the ones we saw [in 2016] were drug-related," Carillo said.
Perhaps the highest profile murder in 2016 was the killing of Anthony Trejo. Nine people have been charged in connection with the murder of the 33-year-old Trejo, who police said was beaten to death, then dismembered and dumped in the Northeast El Paso desert.