Homicides in Montgomery County have increased 30% in the first half of the year compared to 2021 and police say they concerned about trends associated with the deaths.
There were 35 suspected homicides in Montgomery County as of June 30, more than the previous five years when comparing the same time period, according to a Dayton Daily News examination. The year that comes closest to matching 2022 is 2018 when 34 homicides were recorded, the data shows.
“Even one is too many,” Dayton Police Maj. Brian Johns said. “The heartbreak that comes along with these murders, really one is too many.”
Stacy Cameron knows too well the affect violence can have on a family. Her daughter, Shauna Cameron, 31, died on Mother’s Day after the car she was riding in was hit by gunfire in Riverside. Authorities charged 26-year-old Jamar Hayes in the case, but he has yet to be arrested.
Cameron compared the violence to an epidemic for which society doesn’t have a cure. She said it’s important to her that she promotes forgiveness and kindness. She also said there is something wrong with the justice system.
“We take these young men and we put them into prison systems and they come out and they are worse than what they were before. They really are,” Cameron said. “It’s terrible the stuff that goes on in there, and it turns these kids into savages, and they believe that is what they are, so they act accordingly.”
Credit: Bill Lackey
Credit: Bill Lackey
Cameron wants to work with people and help them realize they can be better.
“I want to go to kids and tell them they are not savages, that there is gold in you,” Cameron said. “I’m sorry that Jamar never had anybody come along and tell him that, and then maybe I wouldn’t be in the position that I am right now.”
She asks anyone who may know where Hayes is to turn him in so that Cameron’s family can get justice.
In Dayton, police have seen a 25% increase in homicides this year. Data from the department shows there have been 20 homicides investigated by Dayton Police, but officials say at least one of the incidents may be deemed self-defense.
Dayton Police have investigated three double murders this year, the most recent taking place June 23 at a home on Burleigh Avenue where a mother and her young daughter were killed. They were identified as 31-year-old Aisha Nelson and 6-year-old Harper Guynn by Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger.
The major said Dayton Police sometimes investigates cases where two people were killed at the same time, but not at this rate.
“That is something that we don’t normally see,” Johns said.
He also said there appears to be a shift as to the motive of homicides here. In the past, drug-related homicides were common, but this year they seem to be more personal.
“Disputes, I know they occur, but really it’s not productive to shoot and kill somebody and then obviously yourself will be the one in prison for a long amount of time for usually something that is petty in nature,” Johns said.
Of the 20 homicides recorded this year, at least six have been in an “ambush-style,” Johns said. Those can be some of the toughest types of homicides to solve as there are usually no witnesses who can identify the suspect, he said.
It’s important that police have the trust of the community so that when someone has information that can help solve a crime and put a dangerous person in jail, they come forward, Johns said.
“Relationships in life and in law enforcement are a two-way street,” Johns said. “We got to step up and do better and citizens have to step up and take ownership of their communities. Police can’t do it by themselves, we need their help.”
The Dayton crime statistics do show there is a decrease in gun crime in the city so far this year compared to previous years. Johns said he believes Dayton Police initiatives to remove guns from the street have played a role in reducing gun crimes in the city.
There’s still work to do in the community to further reduce gun violence, Johns said, but Dayton is a safe city to live in.
“There’s no doubt our murder rate is up, 25% right now, but when you look at our ... violent crime it is down 9% and our aggravated assault is down 17%. Our homicide rate is up, but other crimes are down and our total gun crime is also down 9%,” Johns said.
“It is a safe community, but we have work to do.”
Montgomery County homicides
The number of people killed in homicides as of June 30 is higher than the previous five years for the same time range.
2017 - 25
2018 - 34
2019 - 23
2020 - 28
2021 - 28
2022 - 35
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