A spike in homicides to begin this year is putting a strain on Dayton police detectives.
While speaking to the media on Tuesday about a double homicide early Sunday, Dayton police Maj. Brian Johns said that the department had seen nearly twice as many homicides so far this year compared to the same time last year.
The 11 homicides reported in Dayton so far this year is nearly double what the department typically sees in January and February, according to homicide data from the Dayton Police Department.
In the past five years Dayton police recorded the following homicides in the first two months of the year:
- 2018: 4 homicides
- 2019: 5 homicides
- 2020: 6 homicides
- 2021: 4 homicides
- 2022: 6 homicides
“To say they’re overworked is an understatement,” Johns said.
Last year the city had 34 homicides, the second fewest reported in the past five years. In 2021, there were 30 homicides in Dayton.
There were 53 homicides reported in 2019, which included the nine people killed in the Oregon District mass shooting.
In 2018 and 2020, Dayton had 37 and 48 homicides, respectively.
Johns said the city has also seen an increase in aggravated assaults this year.
“Gun violence is definitely an issue and we are working to take steps to try and reduce that,” Johns said. “I can’t stress enough there are different ways to solve or resolve issues than getting a gun and shooting somebody or shooting their house up.”
So far this year, there have been two double homicides.
The first was Jan. 4 in the 1800 block of Banker Place in the DeSoto Bass.
Three people were shot, including 22-year-old Victor Humphrey and 23-year-old James Anderson. Humphrey was pronounced dead at the scene and Anderson died at a local hospital. The third person suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.
Police found two women dead early Sunday inside a vehicle at a Shell gas station on West Third Street. Officers responded around 5 a.m. after a gas station attendant hit a silent alarm after noticing someone around a vehicle in the lot.
Although officers responded around 5 a.m., investigators determined the shooting happened around 2 a.m.
“They had pulled up to the pump and there appeared to be some sort of disturbance take place in the vehicle and that’s when the shooting occurred,” Johns said. “The suspect then got out of the back seat of the vehicle and fled the scene.”
The women killed were identified as 38-year-old Felicia Brown and 44-year-old Michaela Daniels by Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Kent Harshbarger.
A man was arrested in the gas station double homicide Tuesday afternoon. Formal charges have not been filed as of early Wednesday afternoon.
In early 2022, police also expressed concern about a rise in homicides after a shooting killed two men and sent a third to the hospital in critical condition.
The double killing made three homicides reported in the first two weeks of the year, compared to two in all of January 2021.
Johns also commented at the time, saying of the double homicide, “It really doesn’t need to go that way over a dispute that really doesn’t amount to anything. Two people lost their lives and a third, if he doesn’t lose his life, his life is dramatically impacted moving forward over something that is very senseless.”
Almost two weeks later, a man working as a Lyft driver was shot and killed when a group of 15- and 16-year-olds allegedly called Lyft and Uber drivers and rob them at gunpoint, and shot and killed the Lyft driver when he refused to comply.
Johns said Tuesday that police often see incidents where people have trouble dealing with conflict and decide to shoot somebody.
“I wish I could say something or do something to make it all stop,” he said, “but ultimately it’s going to fall upon those people who pull that trigger to think twice before they do.”