Dallas saw its deadliest weekend of 2020 with seven gun deaths in 24 hours — an alarming trend that police said also seemed to mark a shift in what they had been seeing earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.
Police officials in a virtual news conference on Monday said the surging violence demanded an “all-hands-on-deck approach.”
Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall said she’s requested and has received help from the FBI after the fatal shooting on I-35E of Melvin Noble, a Dallas area rapper known as Mo3, last week appears to be “loosely” related to the surge in violence.
Hall referenced other shootings of rappers in Houston and Atlanta, which prompted the FBI’s involvement.
Police officials, citing ongoing investigations, would not identify how many of the weekend shootings appeared to be related to the rapper’s death.
They said they are also seeing a shift in violence away from acquaintances, and that criminals now appeared to be targeting strangers.
The city’s homicides — now at 220 — surpassed last year’s total of 210, which had been one of the highest on record in recent years, according to police data. It was still not at the level seen in 1991 when the city had a record high of 500 homicides.
“We are in a horrific and tragic state,” Hall said. “And these individuals are empowered by the weapons that they carry and so we are being proactive.”
Dallas police said they were focusing resources in four areas of the city, but Hall declined to name locations, citing officer safety. Police have previously said that the Southeast patrol divisions, which includes parts of South Dallas and Pleasant Grove, and Southwest patrol divisions, which encompasses West Dallas and South Oak Cliff, were seeing the most crime.
Hall said the targeted neighborhoods would be seeing an increase in officer presence. Officers from SWAT, traffic, the fugitive unit and crime response teams will assist in the hotspot policing efforts.
It’s unclear if the deployment plan would also include troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“Once we’re in the areas and ...knocking on doors, they’ll be well aware of what’s happening,” Hall said. “There’s nothing off the table. ... There is a full court press to make sure that we go after those individuals who are committing violence in the city of Dallas."
Dallas police officials said there were 178 homicides a year ago this time. A tally of homicide offenses by The Dallas Morning News , which does not follow FBI reporting procedures such as separating justifiable homicides, has counted 230 deaths.
Most of the violence over the weekend took place between Saturday and Sunday.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson called the violent crime “unacceptable” and said his office was pushing for implementation of measures to help support police. He said public safety “must be our highest priority.”
“We are outpacing the increases in many other big cities,” Johnson said. “Our residents deserve answers right now from our law enforcement officials about what they are doing to combat the violence.”
Another challenge police are facing is the rise of social media misinformation fueling speculation about who is behind the shootings.
“We cannot allow social media to lead the investigation," Hall said. “We have to go where evidence leads us.”
Mo3, a 28-year-old rapper , was killed last Wednesday on Interstate 35E near the Dallas Zoo. He and the gunman had been traveling north in separate vehicles when they stopped near Clarendon Drive. That’s where the attacker approached Noble’s vehicle. Noble got out of his car and the gunman started shooting at him as he tried to escape.
Deputy Chief Reuben Ramirez said the department is aware of social media posts where rumors have taken off about a potential suspect in Mo3′s death.
But Ramirez said that the department must focus on the evidence in the case, though he would not say what evidence the police have uncovered. Police officials did not say who was the subject of the rumor.
“There’s been such a high volume of that incorrect information circulating that we are going to be making more frequent statements to try to offset some of the incorrect information,” Ramirez said.
Going after guns
Police Assistant Chief Avery Moore said one of the biggest problems facing police are illegal guns being brought to public places. Moore said with increased traffic enforcement, police intend to take unlawful weapons off the street.
“The value in that is we do what’s called interviewing the gun," he said. "And as we interview these guns, we realized they’re tied to sometimes multiple offenses, whether that’s homicide, or aggravated assault. So we’ll be doing that more.”
The homicides that took place between Saturday and Sunday were all gun-related.
Adam Gautreau , a 36 year old man, was shot multiple times on the northbound service road of I-35 near Empire Central on Saturday.
Kenneth Jerome Hamilton , a 57-year-old man was found fatally shot Saturday night in the driver’s seat of a car in east Oak Cliff, Dallas police say.
Raul Carrillo Resendiz, 49, was shot and killed on Saturday after he was approached by three men in Pleasant Grove. The suspects drove off in a four door sedan, possibly a Honda Civic with black rims. His daughter, Diana Resendiz, 30, pursued the vehicle in her car and was found dead with a gunshot wound.
Around 1:26 a.m. on Sunday, Dallas police responded to a shooting call at 1222 Mclean Avenue, where officers found 19-year-old Jose Hernandez shot outside his home. He later died from his injuries.
Dallas police responded to a shooting call at La Yalorde, a nightclub located in the 8400 block of Harry Hines Boulevard, at about 10 a.m. Sunday where they found Isidro Murillo, a 35-year-old man, and Xiomara Diaz, a 37-year-old woman, dead.
At about 1:47 p.m. Sunday, Terrance Wayne Reed was fatally shot in the front yard of a home on the 4900 block of South Denley Drive.
Over the last couple of weeks, Ramirez said the police have seen more random, stranger-to-stranger offenses.
Hall called this weekend’s violence alarming.
“It makes us angry because it’s senseless violence,” she said.