Tucson 2010 murder rate already higher than last year's full total: Will more cops keep us safe?

Yet another Tucson murder kicked off Wednesday morning’s e-mail in an announcement from Tucson police.

Tucson police car/Ryn Gargulinski

Officers found a man down with “obvious signs of trauma” around 4:20 a.m. near East 22nd Street and South Beverly Avenue. Details to follow.

This man’s death joins a long list of murders that has been plaguing Old Pueblo, with 14 since the beginning of August.

We’ve seen a total of 36 homicides in Tucson since Jan. 1, according to Tucson police statistics, higher than last year’s full total of 32.

It’s only September.

We were hoping a woman who was stabbed by her ex-roommate was on the road to survival, foiling at least one murder attempt.

But a comment and subsequent e-mail from a friend says she is in worse condition than police had disclosed and she may not make it.

Police have kicked off a violent crime initiative, according to an announcement from TPD, with more officers patrolling the streets for a 30-day period.

Another part of the initiative is paying attention to the reasons behind the homicides.

While gangs, drugs, robberies and home invasions are frequent contributing factors, we also note several homicides following random altercations – at a midtown bus stop, a townhouse courtyard, a bus ride fight between two teens. We are glad more police will be on the scene – but will that be enough to keep us safe?

The Tucson Police Department’s website offers crime prevention tips that range from auto theft to vacation safety, with the personal protection tips listed at the bottom of the post.

It would be impossible to dedicate a category to homicides, however, as we never know when someone will strike, or where. And perhaps most frightening, we may never know why.

Tucson homicides from Aug. 1 to Sept. 8

Pedro Rene Leon-Rodriguez, 32, was shot and killed Sept. 5 at a West Side mobile home park.

Jose G. Armenta, 61, was shot and killed and another man injured Sept. 3 following an altercation outside his home.

Thomas D. Wyman, 51, was found fatally stabbed Aug. 31 near a bus stop at North First Avenue and East Prince Road.

Michael A. Moreno, 25, was found dead in a courtyard Aug. 29 after a fight at Bella Vista Townhomes.

A man in his late teens to early 20s died Aug. 31 after being shot then dropped off at one hospital and transferred to another.

Darwin M. Wells, 36, was shot and killed Aug. 27 in the parking lot of the Golf Links apartment complex where he lived.

Christopher Montano, 27, was shot Aug. 26 while sitting in car near a food stand on East 36th Street.

Michael White, 20, was shot dead and three people wounded Aug. 25 during a home invasion at an East Side duplex.

Logan Kunkle, 24, was killed Aug. 20 during a robbery in an East Side home.

Kyle Jenkins, 16, was stabbed to death Aug. 19 after he and another teen were kicked off a Sun Tran bus for arguing.

Jorge Castillo, 36, was shot dead Aug. 18, allegedly by his stepson.

Anthony Duron, 21, was killed and four others injured Aug. 15 during an early morning shooting at Pearl Nightclub.

Julius Lat, 24, died Aug. 8, two days after he was shot during a group fight on the street.

Source: All info is from TPD news releases and previously posted on Rynski’s Day of the Dead

Thinkstock image


Personal Protection tips from the TPD website:

Three elements are needed for a crime to occur:

* Target is the object of a person’s desire
* Desire is the motivating factor a person has for committing a crime
* Opportunity is a favorable forming of circumstance in which a crime can be cultivated

Take one or all three of these elements away and the crime will probably not be committed.

When out and about
The most effective weapon is using your head. The best ammunition is quick thinking, common sense, and alertness.
* Be assertive – Stand tall instead of slouching, walk as if you own the street, and make eye contact with people
* Be aware – Stay alert and continually look around you, avoid using headphones, never go home if you think you are being followed, and do not accept rides from strangers
* Be aware of your surroundings – Know what is going on around you, do not walk into unnecessary confrontations, and avoid shortcuts through vacant lots or other deserted areas

To fight back or not
* Not for personal property if the subject is armed
* Use a defensive weapon – Personal alarms or a whistle
* When resisting an attack – Incapacitate by striking a vulnerable spot (eyes, throat, groin), or create a distraction so you can flee

Defensive driving
* Always check the back seat and floor of your car before getting in
* Hit the horn if you feel someone is following you
* After parking your car, gather all items you are taking before getting out
* Park in well-lighted areas
* Always lock your car, whether parked or driving
* Keep the windows up
* Whenever possible, travel with another person

Using public transportation
* Prior to boarding: Use well-lit stops, stand near other people, and follow a schedule that minimizes your waiting time
* After boarding: Sit near the driver, beware of arguments or commotion, and above all beware of strangers

While at home
* Don’t answer the door if you feel uncomfortable with a particular situation
* Be cautious of strangers who want to use your phone (offer to call the police to assist them)
* Don’t let anyone lure you out of your home
* Don’t let babysitters entertain visitors in your home
* Never divulge personal information
* Admit “repairmen” only if you have an appointment with them
* Doors and locks: Always lock your doors and windows, install deadbolt locks on exterior doors, door hinges should be on the inside, make sure exterior doors are solid core, and your bedroom door should have a lock
* Lighting and visibility: Exterior doors should be well lit, create a barrier of light all the way around your home, place lights high enough to prevent tampering, and prune or transplant overgrown bushes and trees
* Apartment dwellers: Be careful in laundry rooms, don’t buzz or allow anyone in that you do not expect, know or trust, and don’t allow anyone to follow you into a building or hall

Remembering to implement these suggestions will help make you less of a Target. By removing that element, you can reduce or eliminate your chances of becoming a victim.

PLEASE NOTE: Before anyone starts saying this post is anti-police, which it is not, asking if more cops can keep us safe from homicides is in no way meant to put down police efforts. TPD is a fine force that does an awesome job. The question is meant to illustrate the point that some things, like homicides, may be beyond anyone’s control, no matter what is done to prevent them.

ALSO NOTE: The statistics and incident mentioned herein are homicides, not all deaths, in Tucson city limits, not including those reported from the Pima County Sheriff’s Dept.


What do you think?

What measures do you take to keep yourself safe?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in Crime, danger, death, environment, gross stuff, life, Police/fire/law and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Tucson 2010 murder rate already higher than last year's full total: Will more cops keep us safe?

  1. leftfield says:

    Before anyone starts saying this post is anti-police, which it is not…

    After reading this, Ryn, I went back and re-read the article.  I cannot figure out where your concern is coming from or how what you have written could be construed as anti-police.  I picked up some anti-homicide attitude, but I doubt anyone would object to that.

    Anyway, as to your question “Do you feel safe in Tucson?”.  Yes, I mostly do but then again I am white and male and what Americans like to call “middle class”.  Crime in America, like justice, is often a matter of race, class and gender.   

    • Rynski says:

      thanks, leftfield, but i’ve found it MUCH easier to add disclaimers when there is 1 in a billion zillion chance that a reader may misconstrue the point.
      the misconstruing in this case could possibly come from the question in the headline (since some in the past have read only the headlines) ‘will more cops keep us safe’?
      this question, i fear, could be misconstrued that i MUST mean that cops are not doing their jobs since, of course, i question if more of them will make an impact on our personal safety and security….you get the gist….
      disclaimers are a simple way to hopefully ward off any potential rants or haters.
      i’m glad you did pick up on the anti-homicide attitude and i did not need a disclaimer for that.
      also glad you feel safe in tucson. overall, i’d say it’s a cozy place – but this elevated string of violent crime is not a very endearing quality. hope it wanes anon.
      thanks, as always, for comment.

      • Rynski says:

        p.s. hey! did you check ‘yes’ in the poll? as of this typing, i don’t see any ‘yes’ responses.

      • leftfield says:

        I’m going with other, with my explanation above.  So, you’ve been stung by the “menacing figure” and now by the perception that your approach to the dead is too “light-hearted”?  It’s true, Ryn: if you’re an artist, a writer, a politician, or anything else in the public domain, you’re gonna be sticking it out there for everyone to see.  Every now and then someone is gonna come along and kick it (metaphorically, of course).  In the end, you can’t form your opinion of your work or yourself by the judgements of others, especially not the few who complain. 

      • Rynski says:

        thanks, leftfield – i needed that!
        you’re absolutely right – and i DO hope the kicks stay metaphorical, at least – (haha).
        i’m posting this on my bathroom mirror:
        In the end, you can’t form your opinion of your work or yourself by the judgments of others….
        thanks again for reminder.

  2. tiponeill says:

    I am perfectly safe – and so is my family. There is no reason for fear.

  3. andrew farley says:

    I always take my whistle wherever I go, and I feel a whole lot safer when in the Old Pueblo.

    • Rynski says:

      whistles are good. any amount of noise is good to deter attackers. they usually do not appreciate a big, loud scene.

    • fraser007 says:

      My house has weapons(or should I say “devices). sawed off shovel handle, Japanese bayonet (very long) and a knife from an unnamed Arab country. All within easy reach. They dont make noises.
      I keep a knife on my person/car/briefcase. All very easy to get too. They all dont make any noise and I have the will to use them. Any weapon is useful ONLY if the person has the will to use it.
      I have been burglarized, and no I dont feel safe in Tucson. But I am prepared. A whistle will only insure that they know where to find your body. The cops just are not that fast. Attack your attacker. A dead martyr is just another dead body

  4. Alan in Kent WA says:

    Man o man Rynski, this isn’t TOP that I remember.  People would fight, but this type of stuff still got everyone upset then.  Now it sound common place.  I do know that NM, known for violence, got a greatly amount of more livable when the whole state seemed to go to community policeing.  The cops were visable and known to the locals.  They were very involved and stopped to talk with people.  The state got a whole lot more safe feeling as all contributed to a sense of community.  Tucson is a very special place that I don’t even like thinking of it in this situation.  I can’t even give a lite note.

    • Rynski says:

      hey alan in kent wa,
      i don’t get the “altercation turned deadly” sutff, either. i also hope it is a trend and not a permanent installation.
      community policing is known to work. thanks for your nmex anecdote.

  5. azmouse says:

    Well, I love it here in Tucson and I feel safe here.
    It is very saddening to hear of all the unnecessary violence as of late. I always have to think about the fact that the victims are someones beloved relative or friend.

    • Rynski says:

      the violence of late is VERY disheartening….i like tucson, too, and it deserves better than this. it’s a tragic situation all around, but, as i mentioned to kent, hopefully the trend will not continue ad infinitum.

  6. JoeS says:

    Having the proper mindset,  training,  and tools goes a long way.

    • Rynski says:

      good points, joes.
      i also esp. like the tpd tips on looking confident and being aware  (and i’m always all for never answering the door unless i’m expecting someone.)

      • JoeS says:

        “i also esp. like the tpd tips on looking confident and being aware “

        If you look like food you will be eaten…..

  7. radmax says:

    I bet the folks in the twin towers felt safe too. When some a-hole allows drugs, talking dogs, ‘voices’, rage or a man made version of  “Gods Will” influence their actions, no one is ‘safe’. Still, this is one of the quieter burgs I’ve lived in, downright boring sometimes. 🙂

    • Rynski says:

      hiya radmax,
      yes, dealing with other people is ALWAYS like dealing with a loose cannon, so to speak. and also agree tucson is quite quiet, comparatively, to some of the places i’ve also been.
      …and i’ve learned there is nothing wrong with ‘boring’ if ‘boring’ just means lack of drama….

  8. Citizentoo says:

    It isn’t just Arizona, Physical crime is up all over the country.  In Pennsylvania, lately, after they beat you down enough to steal whatever you have, they shoot you in the leg.
    I carry my whistle at all times.  Mine has a small problem with lead things coming out the front, every time I use it.

    • Rynski says:

      ha! on your ‘whistle’ – thanks for clearing up confusion. i honestly thought farley was walking around with a little whistle like they use for coaching sports -hahhahah.
      too sad to hear the physical/violent crime is on the rise all over the place. i knew people across the nation were generally getting ruder and less considerate, but i did not think they were all getting more violent, too.
      stay safe!

  9. Tank says:

    This is a right to carry state, and with no ccw required to carry now, it is the regular, “good” citizens to arm themselves, not only to protect themselves, but to potentially save the life of another..to feel a bit more confident while walkin’ to you’re car through a dark parking lot (no one likes to live in fear). The criminals are carrying anyway..this is the way we can level the playing field. Makes them think; “I wonder if that guy/lady is packing a pistol…?” “Better choose another, easier target.” A gun is not an evil thing…it is a tool to do a job: put food on the table, target shoot for leisure, or to save one’s life. “A person can kill someone waaay uglier with a hammer than a gun.” 

  10. Tank says:

    Oh, and JoeS, hit the nail right on the head.
    “Having the proper mindset,  training,  and tools goes a long way.”

    go WILDCATS. 😉

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