Houston says 20 percent of homicides linked to
06:00 PM CST on Wednesday, January 18, 2006
HOUSTON -- The number of Hurricane Katrina evacuees linked to homicides
in Houston more than doubled Wednesday after police double-checked
records and updated numbers.
The latest figures show that at least 23 evacuees were either the victim
or suspect in killings between September and December, when the city
absorbed more than 150,000 displaced residents who have remained in the
area since the hurricane.
The department's previous estimate was 10. The new number accounts for
nearly 20 percent of all homicides during the last four months of 2005,
the Houston Chronicle reported in its online edition Wednesday.
Houston's total homicide rate rose 23 percent last year, and the
increase has spilled over into the first few weeks of January. The
city's 21 homicides over this year's first 18 days is one-third more
than the same period last year.
"It's not a very good way to start the year, but we are also living in a
city with more than 2 million people," Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt
told the newspaper.
Hurtt didn't share the breakdown of victims and suspects among the 23,
but said the department will begin keeping track. He said that's because
the department hopes to secure federal money to pay for two overtime
initiatives targeting the city's most crime-laden areas.
"We did a pretty good job keeping track when they were in the Astrodome,
but did not once they dispersed," Hurtt said.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)