Area leaders, law enforcement respond to recent surge in BR killings

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The number of homicides in Baton Rouge is on the verge of breaking records but area leaders say they are working to tackle the issue head on.

In an already violent year, this week was especially deadly and one that can only be described as brutal. There have been six homicides in the last six days in Baton Rouge and city leaders say violence in the capital city is out of control.

"At the rate we're going now we're going to break records and that's a record we don't want to break," said EBR Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.

The latest was Wednesday morning when 21-year-old Catrell Wallace was found shot to death in the parking lot of a store on Weller Avenue. The day before 59-year-old Bruce Coefield was gunned down at the intersection of Florida Boulevard and North Acadian Thruway.

Local rapper 22-year-old Garrett Burton, known as Gee Money, was fatally shot on Dallas Drive Thursday. Three people were killed last Friday. David Walker, 68, was shot dead on Seneca Street while behind the wheel of a car and hours earlier, Donovan Cummings and Anthony Harvey were killed while repairing a home on Thomas Delpit Drive.

With three months left in the year, the 72 slayings so far have eclipsed last year's 62 murders.

"What we want to do today is to come together really as believers in the body of Christ," said councilwoman Tara Wicker.

The recent violence has forced some to turn to religion, with some leaders hosting a day of prayer earlier this week. Sheriff Gautreaux though says it is time for action.

"We've got some task forces that we're going to enhance, and we've got plans to do some other things to address this problem and we'll be disclosing those plans to the public in the next week or so," Gautreaux added.

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, other area mayors and heads of law enforcement sat down for a closed door meeting Thursday morning to come up with solutions. While she did not want to reveal too much, Broome says one option is focusing on recruitment.

"One of our goals is to increase manpower within our police department and so right now we are anticipating having an additional academy before the end of the year which will provide us with 13 additional officers," said Broome.

Despite looking for answers in many of the cases, leaders with the Baton Rouge Police Department refused to comment on the uptick in crime Thursday but as the chief law enforcement officer for the parish, Gautreaux admits it is a problem that law enforcement must work to address.

"We've got to work even harder you know and we're going to do it. Law enforcement will do our part to try to address this problem," he added.

Gautreaux says they are working to address the spike in killings but reminds people that it does not just fall on law enforcement. He encourages anyone with information about any of the recent murders to call Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.

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