Homicides in Charleston could surpass record in over 25 years

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 8:51 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - In 2022, Charleston Police say 13 homicide investigations have taken place.

Police say if another homicide happens this year, the 14th homicide would make a record number the city would have since police were able to pull records back to 1996.

Back in September, WSAZ reached out to Charleston Police about the number of homicides. That is when Investigative Bureau Chief Lt. Tony Hazelett said there is not a clear reason for all of the homicides.

“A lot of people are quick to jump to conclusions about it’s drug related,” said Hazelett in September. “One male got mad because he was dating a female to just social media chatter, so the majority of these crimes are not really tied into drugs.”

A homicide means a person dies at the hands of another while a murder means a person had the intent to take another human’s life.

Of the 13 homicides this year, 10 were murder investigations and 8 murder investigations lead to charges and arrests.

Two of those murder investigation have not yet been solved by Charleston Police. That includes the shooting of Patrick Jefferson on March 18 and the most recent murder investigation where police found Lisa Geiger with gunshot and stab wounds on October 4.

Some of these shootings happened on Charleston’s West Side. Jean runs the Neighborhood Watch on the West Side and she said she is concerned because not too many people show up to the meetings.

“I think the old people are afraid I know the ones around here is,” said Jean.

Back in August, Charleston Chief of Police Tyke Hunt spoke with WSAZ about the rising concerns of Charleston residents after recent shootings.

“What you’re going to see here, because of the grouping and timing of the crimes here on the West Side, is more community engagement with law enforcement,” Hunt said in August.

Attending Jean’s Neighborhood Watch meetings at Canaan United Methodist Church on the last Monday of every month is one of the community engagement efforts by police. Jean said the next Neighborhood Watch meeting is October 24.

“We are trying to ask the neighbors if they hear anything, let the police know. If they call in and they hear anything, the police can call in and they can catch whoever,” said Jean. “You can tip anonymously.”

Jean said she does her own patrols around Charleston’s West Side almost every night.

“About every night and I pay for my own gas,” said Jean. “I just wish it would slow down. I don’t understand it. This year it is worse than ever to me.”

Jean hopes more people report when they hear gunshots or see concerning behavior happening.

Charleston Police said response times to shootings are fast - at about a minute - and they said their solve rates for homicides are high.

“You might see them every 15 to 20 minutes going down here, not just this block. They are all over,” said Jean.

The other three homicide investigations that are not murder investigations include the officer involved shooting of Samuel Ranson on Aug 27. Police say during the incident Ranson was shot by police after he shot K-9 officer Axel at close range to police.

Another homicide investigation that did not lead to charges was the shooting of Dennis Butler. Police said Butler shot into a crowd of people on May 25 and that’s when another unnamed person returned gunfire and killed Butler.

The third homicide that was not a murder investigation was the shooting of Dominique Poindexter. Police say Marcus Linville was charged in connection with the death of Poindexter while they were ‘playing with a gun.’

Here are the 10 murder investigations in Charleston for 2022:

1. February 1

2. March 13

3. March 18

4. June 4

5. August 5

6. August 12

7. August 26

8. August 30

9. September 9

10. October 4