Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Murder rate climbs in Pontiac

from the Detroit News.....

PONTIAC -- When police found 32-year-old Jacob Raikes-Jovons Williams slumped over the steering wheel of a 2006 Jeep Commander early last week, it didn't take them long to zero in on a suspect.

Cleinte Buckner, 27, of Pontiac was arrested near the scene. He told police that an argument between him and Williams led to the shooting.

Buckner was charged Thursday with first- and second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

More puzzling to police is the number of homicides the city has seen this year. In fewer than eight months the city has seen 12 homicides, nearly matching the total of the past two years combined. Pontiac had 10 homicides in 2005 and three in 2004.

"There is an increase and it's tragic," Sgt. William Ware of the Pontiac Police Department said.

"It's just recently started to go down, maybe five or six years ago. In the late 1980s, there were as many as 38."

Ware said the city's money problems are a factor.

"Our community policing department is no longer in place," he said. "A lot of things would be prevented if we had officers out there talking to citizens and holding meetings in the community."

Community activist and Pontiac schoolteacher Quincy Stewart said the economy and a lack of opportunity are to blame for the increase in violence.

"When you go to places like Rochester and Birmingham, the murder rates are less because the opportunity for a productive life exists there," Stewart said.

"There are no jobs in Pontiac."

This year's total climbed with a particularly violent July. John Leo Gleason was shot in the chest during a robbery attempt on the city's east side July 24. On July 26, 31-year-old Markeda Byas and her 2-month-old daughter Arctavia Reed died. Byas was shot in the head, and the apartment was set on fire. Arctavia died of smoke inhalation. Jimmie Reed Jr. of Detroit, Arctavia's father, is charged with murder and arson.

March matched July's total, with three people dead in 10 days. On March 18, Jose Alvarado was found shot to death in the parking lot of his home in the Pinewood apartment complex. Reynaldo Mendez, 18, was shot to death on March 24. Adrian Nichols, 17, also of Pontiac was charged in his death. Pontiac resident Timothy Smith was charged in the March 28 strangling of his ex-girlfriend Shonda Larell Green.

Two of the city's 12 homicides remain unsolved. Police are still looking for suspects in the Feb. 2 stabbing death of 72-year-old William Goode Jr. and the March 18 shooting that left Alvarado dead.

NOTE: Keep in mind that the Democrats control Pontiac.

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