In 3 years Memphis homicides jump 37% - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

In 3 years Memphis homicides jump 37%

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Memphis police say homicides were up slightly in 2012 as compared to 2011. In all of 2012, there were 157 homicides.

Police Director Toney Armstrong said in a statement the community has to work together to find the root problems which lead to these crimes.

Though statistics from other violent crimes are not ready yet, some city leaders say the uptick in homicides is largely due to guns on the streets and in the wrong hands.

"In this day and age, crime, hatred, and she tried to be a peacemaker," said Betty Buckley, mother to the late Roneccia Luster, one of the 157 homicides in 2012 in the Bluff City.

Police say 19-year-old James Holmes gunned down Ms. Luster Oct. 10 at an East Memphis ATM.

"She was a loving, giving person, had those men asked her, should've given (the money) to them," Buckley said. "They didn't need to take her life."

According to Memphis police, the number of homicides increased 37 percent in the past three years.

In all of last year there were 157 killings; in 2011 there were 147 homicides; and in 2010 there were 112. Between 2010 and 2011 there was a 30 percent rise in homicides and between 2011 and 2012 a 7 percent rise in homicides.

Of all the homicides in the past three years, 63 (17 percent) were justifiable,

Director Armstrong said in a statement to FOX13 News most homicides are unpredictable and between people who know each other.

"Hopefully through community policing, realignment of manpower throughout the city of Memphis, and by bringing our resources to every precinct (such as investigative bureaus), we will see a difference in 2013," he said in the statement.

While many factors may trigger killings, Mayor A C Wharton blames easy gun access for criminals.

"If you look at what's happening here it's the easy access to guns," the mayor said. "Anybody can get a gun - 15-16 year-old - anybody in this town who wants a gun can get a gun and use it for illegal purposes. I say over and over again, it has nothing to do with folks who have a permit to carry or if you have a weapon in your home. But the folks who want guns on streets to be used for illegal purposes there will be a white hot intense focus on those."

As the city works to find methods to combat crime, the hundreds of victims' family members continue to feel the pain each new year.

"More than anything going to miss her smile, that smile she gave the world," Buckley said.

Holmes, who police say is responsible for Ms. Luster's death, is due in court in the next week.

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