Murder rate soars in 70802, declines in 70805

Teens speak out about crime in their neighborhood (Source: WAFB)
Teens speak out about crime in their neighborhood (Source: WAFB)
BRAVE leaders address issues, concerns teens have (Source: WAFB)
BRAVE leaders address issues, concerns teens have (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - While the number of murders in Baton Rouge so far this year closely compares to the 2013 statistics, one community is particularly seeing a spike.

Officials said crime is creeping from the 70805 zip code and into the 70802 area.

The teenagers of the community are the eyes and ears in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Baton Rouge. Police, crime tape and murder are realities for them. Stephfon Washington, who grew up in the 70805 zip code, remembers living in fear.

"From time to time, you hear gunshots by your window," Washington said. "You're scared to sleep at night."

Another teen, Cydni Raby, said she has witnessed what police have pointed out are the roots of the problem.

"I see that they deal drugs, smoke illegal substances and alcohol abuse and they don't go to school at all," Raby explained.

Members of Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) listened as teens voiced their concerns about crime and how it might impact their futures. Some of them said they feel trapped, even scared to walk out of their own homes.

Through the BRAVE initiative, law officers tackled the violent neighborhood known as 70805. However, District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he has noticed an interesting shift in the murder rate.

"[70802] has always been neck and neck with [70805] and now it's up, so it shows we need to pay attention to [70802]," Moore said.

According to statistics collected, there were 12 murders in the 70805 zip code and five in 70802 from January to July of 2013. In the same time frame for 2014, the numbers are reversed. The homicide rate in 70805 has dropped to five, while 70802's has soared to 12.

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux believes the criminals may have simply changed their addresses.

"When you go in and you really hit an area hard and you work hard, you are going to move some of that criminal element around, sometimes to a different zip, sometimes a different parish," Gautreaux said.

BRAVE leaders said they are just getting started in the 70802 zip code, but they are still very present in 70805. They added their mission is not complete until criminals get the message to "straighten up, leave or suffer the consequences."

The sheriff said he expects the 70802 area code will notice a significant improvement by the end of this year.

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