A high-profile robbery report and shooting in a Killeen shopping center Monday renewed concerns over the city’s rising violent crime rate in the first four months of 2017.
Killeen police responded to a robbery call at 4:14 p.m. Monday at the T-Mobile retail store at Killeen Marketplace and chased a suspect who was running away from the business as gunshots were exchanged. The suspect was identified as 15-year-old Daezion Turner, according to the Texas Department of Safety late Friday. A preliminary autopsy has yet to be completed.
An officer was transported to the hospital for minor injuries but was not shot, Miramontez said.
So far in 2017, nine deaths have been classified as homicides by criminal investigators. By April 26, 2016, there were three deaths being investigated as homicides.
Crime has been an issue not only on the streets of Killeen but also in job brochures for the city’s top leadership. The advertisement for the Killeen chief of police position posted online April 21 lists an increase in crime as a central concern of City Manager Ron Olson.
With six days left before the May 6 Killeen City Council election, the Herald reached out to council candidates for their assessment of the factors leading to an increase in violent crime in the city and information about how they will help tackle those root causes if they are elected.
Holly Teel: “It’s time we turned the KPD loose. Too many uneducated people are running around trying to stop crime when the truth is simple; let the officers arrest the gang members, and put in place gang-free zones. Tougher sentence, higher bail, and more officers.”
Kenny Wells: “As your council member, I will work to bring in the right new police chief who understands the reality of this crime epidemic and will offer the leadership at the police department to deal with it. I will also work with the council and community to prevent crime rather than reacting to it. As your council member, I will work as a statesman to improve on the good things our community has to offer.”
Incumbent Councilwoman Shirley Fleming: These young children all over are soaked in drugs, not thinking about the results of a crime they are committing. They don’t have enough activities for them, and the ones we have with our Parks and Rec Center they are not taking advantage of what Killeen has to offer. We have great programs,
The young parents needs to assist their children more, educate them, teach them right from wrong. The teachers can’t do it all. It is up to the parents to help develop our children to be productive men and women in our society. We all have to work together to stop all this crime and violence in Killeen and surrounding areas. Let all of us get involved to help our children.
Debbie Nash-King: “The city has trained and certified police officers to combat crime. The only way we can address these issues are to get the residents of Killeen involved with calling crime stoppers when they see suspicious activity. Every neighborhood in the city of Killeen should have a neighborhood watch. The citizens can get more involved by attending the police citizen academy for residents to learn how to report illegal activities taking place in their community. The rise in crime can be due to multiple variables. The council can support the local police department by providing the resources needed to combat crime in the city. The local business owners can request the police department to do a crime prevention analyst on their business to reduce crime.”
Larry Smith: “Criminals go for soft targets. Reduce the number of soft targets.”
No candidates from District 3 responded.
Ralph Cossey Jr.: “The persistent crime levels in Killeen, in particular the violent crimes, are a primary concern to me. While I don’t agree that it is necessarily rising, I believe the crime problem can be addressed in a combination of three ways. As I have stated throughout my campaign, Crime Prevention, Law Enforcement, and Education will be keys to successfully diminishing crime in this city.
Factors leading to crimes are poverty, lack of pride, gang/thug mentality, lack of education and thereby lower income. The holistic resolution to crime will be embedded in the general solution for prosperity for our society. The community government working with citizens, businesses, schools, and organizations can achieve a barrier against criminal activity, even if we may never completely eliminate it.”
Steve Harris: The rise in crime, in this specific case, robberies, have increased by triple digits here in Killeen. What factors do I believe are leading to the increase: word of mouth is one.
Killeen is, unfortunately, experiencing a shortage of police officers, from rookies to experienced field and technical officers. Also, in essence, our PD appears to be working on a skeleton screw that is seemingly comparable to the number of officers on the streets back in the early 2000s. I believe, the word of mouth is spreading about Killeen as a potential land of opportunity for crime with the odds of being caught being seen as a positively calculated risk. Other factors include the influx of and, or the grooming of criminally minded individuals and violence prone children and young people. I could also cite the high transient rate of individuals in Killeen is a factor as well, which it is, but, would not yet correlate it as the primary reason without some specific data driven back up. Unless, we as a city, are able to change things soon, Killeen could potentially get worse.
As a council member, I would ask for staff to seek agreement from the rest of the council to complete a study of crime trends in Killeen in the past 5 years to see if we can determine a specific factor that presented itself in correlation with the drops and raises in crime rates.
Once this data has been compiled and presented, I would request, if I deemed it necessary, a joint meeting with Fort Hood, the Harker Heights PD as well as the Copperas Cove PD to collaborate on creating a strategy to initiate a joint “informational” task group that would be designed to inform neighboring cities of intelligence gathered by another department on activities and, or individuals. (If it does not already exist). Either way, I would work for stronger cooperation between the four entities.
Citizens will then have to become more engaged with our PD as well as our PD becoming more engaged with our citizens.
Finally, even as we already know, the highest areas of Killeen affected by crime and robberies, along with the places as well. The attempted robbery of the T-Mobile store, and in that location, is new. This particular suspect, it seems, decided to go outside of the norm.
In order to fight and curb these actions, we need to find a way to staff our police force up to its full capacity and figure out a way to keep them here in Killeen, too. Until we can figure these two things out, we have nothing to fight and reduce crime but all of the citizens and the PD working together.
Incumbent Councilman Brockley Moore and candidate Stanley Abrahams did not reply.