Homicide numbers in Phoenix higher this year, show very violent past six weeks

Police are concerned about the amount of violence in Phoenix in the past six weeks and there are more murders this year compared to last year.
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 7:26 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A concerning amount of violence in Phoenix during the past month-and-a-half has the number of homicides up compared to last year. Some of these crimes particularly stand out in brutality.

They’re the worst kind of crimes that tear families apart forever. “How did she get on the bus alive and leave off the bus in a body bag?” said Shontae Vinson to Arizona’s Family this week.

Vinson’s cousin, Diane Craig, was strangled to death on a Valley Metro bus on May 6. Joshua Bagley has been arrested for the crime, a man her family believes she never knew. “Very evil, a monster, to say the least. I don’t know him but what he did was horrible,” said Vinson.

Just days later, another brutal violent act. Police said a woman was intentionally run over by a man in Phoenix and killed, again, by a stranger. These two homicides are just part of a long list of these crimes in Phoenix this year, showing an upward trend in killings compared to last year.

According to stats from Phoenix Police, in April of 2021, there were 15 homicides. April of this year, there are 24. In May of last year, there were 18 homicides, and not even halfway through the month, the city has already seen 10, with eight happening just last week alone.

Their violent crimes unit is swamped with cases. “Homicides are inherently complex investigations, so they require a lot of follow up and leads,” said Phoenix Police Sgt. Vincent Cole.

Cole said these cases take not only a lot of time but a lot of resources, often patrol officers having to aid detectives with these scenes and investigations. From January to the end of May last year, the city was up to 76 total homicides. It’s only May 13, and they’ve already dealt with 81 since January and counting.

Cole said it’s important to tackle these cases aggressively right away to make arrests as soon as possible and said despite the high number of homicide cases, their team is committed to doing whatever it takes to solve them. “They work hard, they work tirelessly, and they’re going to keep working hard. We best deploy our resources where best necessary and that’s what we’re going to continue to do,” Cole said.

Arizona’s Family asked Phoenix police if there’s any sort of trend or commonality among these homicides and what they believe is contributing to the high number this year, but they said they couldn’t answer that.