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Shootings in San Antonio Highlight Violence Against Police in Texas

By Peek & Toland on December 7, 2017

Texas is no stranger to violence against police. Two cities, in particular, have seen a spate of police killings.

San Antonio and Dallas have been the scenes of police slayings over the last two years.

In late June, a police officer in San Antonio died of his wounds after a shootout with a man who the officer and his partner attempted to talk to about a vehicle break-in.

The officers were patrolling north of downtown San Antonio. They wanted to question two men because they were close to a vehicle that had been broken into. The men were not even considered to be suspects.

Officer Miguel Moreno was a nine-year veteran of the San Antonio police force. He was shot in the head by one of the men he tried to question. He died later. The gunman unexpectedly opened fire on Moreno and Officer Julio Cavazos, his partner.

violence against police in San Antonio

Violence against police made headlines in San Antonio

The gunman fired on the officers as they got out of their patrol car. Cavazos also was shot but he returned fire and tried to pull Moreno out of the line of fire.

Cavazos made a recovery after surgery. The gunman was killed in the shootout.

The latest fatal shooting of a police officer came as Texas enacts a law that will make violence against police officers a hate crime.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said:

“This senseless act of violence against two courageous and committed law enforcement officers demonstrates the risk our men and women in blue face every day. We owe Officer Moreno and Officer Julio Cavazos a great debt of gratitude for their service and bravery in the face of danger.”

The incident in June came on the heels of the killing of a San Antonio detective in November. The officer, Benjamin Marconi, a 20-year-veteran of the force was sitting in his patrol car writing a ticket when a man approached him and shot him in the head.

KXAN reported the suspect, Otis Tyrone McKane, later said he was angry about a child-custody fight and lashed out.

In July 2016, as racial tensions ran high nationally, a sniper ambushed and killed five police officers at a Black Rights Matter march in Dallas.

Micah Johnson was a military veteran of conflicts in Afghanistan. The killings provided the impetus for Abbott to call for new legislation.

If you have been accused of a crime against a police officer, you are likely to be facing a very serious sentence. You should contact an experienced Austin criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

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Homicides Spike 11 Percent in US Cities

By Peek & Toland on May 23, 2017

Violent crime continued to rise in many American cities in 2016, the second year in a row that saw a jump in homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies.

Data from the Major Cities Chiefs Association pointed to a homicides spike in many major cities in 2016. The increase was compared to the previous year when murders also rose.

While Chicago makes for the most alarming gun crime headlines, Texas cities also saw significant increases in homicides last year.

Homicides spike in major US cities

In Dallas, for example, city officials cited drug crimes and domestic assaults as factors in the increasing crime rates. The Dallas Police Department created a 170-member violent crime task force comprising gang units, K-9, and narcotics.

Some smaller cities with historically low murder rates saw a spike in homicides. For instance, Arlington, Texas, had 4 homicides in 2015 but 18 last year.

The news station KVIA noted significant increases in the homicide rate in Austin and San Antonio last year.

The number of violent deaths in 2016 for Austin was the highest in nearly two decades when the city racked up 39 homicides, the most since 1997.

San Antonio police investigated 151 homicides in 2016. While the percentage increase was not as high as Austin’s, San Antonio has considerably more violent crime.

Homicides Spike in Austin and San Antonio

Drugs and domestic violence fueled San Antonio’s homicides spike, police said.

Various theories are put forward to explain the rise in violent crime. Last year, we noted the perceived link between an influx of cheaper heroin and violent crime.

The Sinaloa Cartel from Mexico was the biggest player in the market. However, the arrest of the gang’s kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in 2014 is credited with creating more violence. Rival gangs fought to fill the vacuum his gang left behind in U.S. cities.

There are other theories including the so-called “Ferguson effect.” This assumes police are backing off enforcement for fear of provoking racial tensions as occurred in Ferguson, MO in 2014 after a police officer shot dead Michael Brown, an unarmed black man.

Another less well-known theory is advanced in a recent article in Mother Jones which claimed childhood exposure to lead may be linked to juvenile delinquency later in life.

If you have been charged with a homicide or a serious drug offense like trafficking, you will be facing the loss of your liberty. It’s important to contact an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Contact us here or call (512) 474-4445.

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Homicides Rise Sharply in Austin and San Antonio

By Peek & Toland on April 21, 2017

Concerns about rising numbers of homicides in Texas cities including Austin and San Antonio last year were not just anecdotal.

Many cities experienced a sharp increase homicides of a magnitude not seen in decades.

A report on the TV station KVIA revealed the number of deaths seen in Austin was the highest in two decades. The city recorded 39 homicides, the most since 1997.

The rise in homicides at 75 percent was second highest of the nation’s major cities after San Diego in California. The highest number of homicides ever recorded in Austin was 52 in 1985 –  the earliest year the FBI had homicide statistics for larger cities.

Austin and San Antonio see homicides rise

Homicides rise in Austin and San Antonio

Austin police said in a report in the Statesman no one particular cause was behind the spike. They pointed to Austin’s rapidly growing population.

San Antonio has experienced one of the largest spikes in homicides in the country. Police investigated 151 killings in 2016. It’s the highest figure in 20 years and a rise of 61 percent on 2015.

The city’s Police Chief William McManus told the San Antonio Express-News a quarter of the homicides were spontaneous. Police figures found 40 percent of the killings to be related to drugs or connected to families or acquaintances.

In January, KSAT reported on measures announced by San Antonio police to curb violent crime.

The San Antonio Police Department implementing an intelligence-driven approach to cutting violent crime in 2017.

McManus said violent crime also increased about 9.2 percent overall year-on-year in the city.

The Police department is creating a new Violent Crime Task Force to bring together disparate units like gang and vice units and narcotics. It will combine their intelligence in a bid to counter violent crime.

Police will focus on targets in San Antonio rather than specific target areas, and go after individuals who are involved in violent crime.

If you have been charged with a violent crime, you are likely to be facing a long time behind bars if convicted. Some murder charges lead to the death penalty being imposed.

Call our experienced Austin criminal defense team today for help at (512) 474-4445.

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Murder Rate Sees Biggest Spike Since 1971

By Peek & Toland on November 23, 2016

We have heard plenty of speculation that the murder rate is rising in U.S. cities. A recent study released by the FBI has confirmed the deadly trend.

The data released at the end of the summer revealed murders rose 10.8 percent year- on-year in 2015. It was the largest single-year jump in percentage terms since 1971, the Guardian reported.

Just 10 cities accounted for the dramatic rise. These cities saw 524 additional murders. Baltimore in Maryland saw the biggest numerical increase – up 133 killings or 63 percent year on year.

murder rate sees biggest rise since 1971

The biggest percentage increases were seen in Aurora in Colorado and Anchorage in Alaska – 118 and 117 percent respectively.

In terms of raw numbers Houston in Texas saw the third biggest rise in murders of any U.S. city with 61 more killings.

Worryingly, many of the cities that saw big murder rate rises in 2015 have seen killings spike further this year.

Homicides or murders are up 15 percent in Houston and 13 percent in Kansas City, according to police department figures. Philadelphia and Nashville have seen increases of 5 percent and 6 percent.

While the murder rate rose, the overall crime rate has remained stable. The rise in murders follows a 20-year downward trend. The gains of the past few years have been wiped out and the murder rate is back at 15,696, about the same as the rate in 2009. The violent crime rate remains much lower than in the late 1980s and early 1990s when it hit a peak. It’s still about half of the 1991 murder rate.

The national murder rate last year was about half what it was in 1991.

The Guardian reported the rising tide of homicides was driven by an increase in the murders of black men, and an overall rise in gun murders. At least 900 more African American men were killed in 2015 than in the previous year, according to the FBI data. There were as many as 1,500 more firearm murders last year.

Murder is the most serious offense anyone can face in Texas or other states. However, there are different types of murder charges and some homicides end up as manslaughter cases. Texas has a long history of charging the wrong person with murder. You can read more about murder in Texas here.

If you have been charged with this very serious offense it’s vital to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call us today at (512) 474-4445.

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Gun Crime in Austin Exceeds 2015 Tally

By Peek & Toland on November 14, 2016

Three deadly shootings in Austin in the space of 10 days drew attention to rising levels of gun crime in the city.

A report on KVUE News noted the upsurge of shootings in the city this year. On Aug. 8, a 58-year-old woman died when shots were fired outside a North Austin business on Wagon Trail. Three other people suffered injuries in the incident.

Two other fatal shootings occurred within days of each other in East Austin. On Aug. 11 a fatal shooting was reported on Elmira Road. Manor Road was the scene of another fatal shooting three days later. Police made arrests in both cases.

Gun crime in Austin exceeds 2015 ;levels

At the end of August, a man received serious injuries when he was shot near the 700 block of East Rundberg Lane in North Austin.

In September, a man was killed in Austin in a gun fight with police officers, reported The Statesman.

Sgt. Jerry Bauzon of Austin Police Division Homicide Unit said the city is lucky in that it avoids the levels of violent crime experienced in many other places. Austin averages about 25 to 30 shooting deaths a year.

However, by August, Austin exceeded 17 homicides recorded in 2015, suggesting levels of gun crime are rising.

KVUE spoke to Misha Jones, whose home is near Wagon Trail. She fears more violent crimes in the area and called for more police patrols.

Gun Crime is a Felony Offense

Gun crime is treated seriously in Texas. Even possession of a banned firearm is a third-degree felony.

If you take a life with a gun, you will likely face a murder or manslaughter charge. We define murder here on our website. If the prosecution asserts you intended to hurt the victim, or, were aware you committed an act that was “clearly dangerous to human life,” you will face a murder charge.

Murder charges can also be brought if a death occurs when you are committing a felony. An example would be a fatal shooting during a robbery. Even if there was no intent to kill a victim, a perpetrator would face a murder charge if a death resulted.

Gun crime is taken very seriously. If you have been charged with murder, you should contact an experienced Austin murder defense attorney as soon as possible. Call us for a confidential consultation at (512) 474-4445.

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