Baton Rouge's staggering murder rate has officials turning to prayer

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In less than two weeks in Baton Rouge, there have been nine murders according to Baton Rouge Police.

It's a harsh reality many are coming to grips with. It's why East Baton Rouge Councilwoman Tara Wicker called for prayer on Monday to get the conversation started.

"This past week in Baton Rouge has really put us in a place where all of us are very uncomfortable," said Wicker.

"It's so disturbing that we've had that many individuals murdered and in the last weekend, we've had an additional four individuals murdered," said BRPD's Interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam.

Since Aug. 29th, there have been nine murders in the city. It started with five murders in five days and then this past weekend added four more including Friday's double murder, then what sources said was a retaliation killing of a 68-yr-old man and a rapper shot and killed early Sunday morning as he was walking out of a studio.

"We invite you in this city precious holy spirit of God," said a pastor attending Monday's call for prayer.

"We need a healing of our land. We need God. That's the only answer there is," said EBR Councilman Buddy Amoroso.

"We have a lot of tools in the tool kit. Law enforcement is working fervently but I believe another instrumental tool in the tool kit is the power of prayer," said Mayor Sharon Weston Broome.

Last Tuesday, Mayor Sharon Weston Broome said her office was taking immediate action by focusing on blight, abandoned cars and making sure areas were well lit. But State Rep. C. Denise Marcelle said that alone is not working.

"Although I do think that's an important issue, I don't necessarily equate that directly to the murders that we're seeing in our city. I equate the murders we're seeing in our city to not necessarily gangs, but "beefing" as they say on the streets with each other regardless whether a house is blighted or not," said Marcelle.

Instead, Marcelle said take prayer to 70802 and 70805 and many agree, Baton Rouge needs help and perhaps a higher being is just what it needs.

"This divisiveness, the crime, the spirit of apathy and deterioration is not welcomed here in this city and this parish," said Mayor Broome.

So far, no arrests have been made in the city's last nine murders. BRPD reports their clearance rate is about 60% for murders, which is on par with the national level.

It's why Mayor Broome has asked the public to step up with any information by making a simple call to Crime Stoppers anonymously at 344-STOP (7867).

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