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Public safety officials grapple with growing murder rate

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INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Metropolitan police arrested one person in connection with overnight violence around Indianapolis as city officials grappled with a growing murder rate.

Three murders Monday night into early Tuesday morning pushed Indianapolis’ homicide rate to a breakneck pace compared to a year ago.

Tyrone Woods, 19, was the city’s 41st criminal homicide victim of the year shortly before 6 p.m. at the Hearts Landing Apartments on the northeast side in what detectives said was a dispute involving gang members over a girl.

Investigators developed the names of suspects from neighbors because, as one veteran officer told Fox 59 News, “Maybe these people are tired of this over there.”

Four hours later, in the 3400 block of Brouse Avenue, Jerry Green, 19, was found shot to death with marijuana and money nearby.

Then, shortly before 3 a.m., Baswan Allen, 24, was shot to death in the 100 block of South Sheridan Avenue in what an investigator said was a drug deal.

Twelve hours later, detectives found a suspect and witness from one of their cases driving in the 2800 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Street.

At the same time, the city’s Violent Crime Review Team was meeting to sort out the reasons behind the killings and what can be done to stop it.

“There are a lot of things that are occurring now that weren’t occurring last year and the year before,” said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs. “There’s an influx of heroin to a level that we haven’t seen in quite a time. We have 5,000 people coming back (from prison), 1,500 of which have never lived here before.”

Riggs said the team has a rough draft of its plans for the summer and beyond. Those proposals will be rolled out beginning June 1.

“That’s why we’re talking about being organized, being as efficient as possible,” said Riggs. “That’s why we’re putting 100 (more) officers on the streets sometime this year.

“We’ve put together a team to look at the summer because everything is lining up to say we could have a violent summer. We want to keep that from occurring,” he said.

At 43 criminal homicides, Indianapolis’ 2013 murder rate is outpacing the 2012 statistics by 19 killings.

Violent crime is down two percent compared to a year ago, and overall crime is off by ten percent.