UPDATE: Killings up this year, but down in Richmond

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If the numbers continue this way, 2010 would end a streak of yearly declines stretching back at least five years.

The City of Richmond often sets the tone for the region, but that's not the case this year. Police are reporting a decrease in murders. So far, there have been 31 killings, compared to 34 at this time in 2009.

Investigators say they have solved 21 of those murders.

But the trend is different in Henrico, Chesterfield and Petersburg. All three areas are seeing an increase in the number of murders. Henrico is up to 12, compared to 9 last year. Chesterfield is up from 2 to 8. Petersburg is up from 6 to 10 murders.

All too often we heard from family members grieving the loss of a loved one, like Katrice Robertson's family.

"My world just stopped. I couldn't grasp the thought of my oldest sister being gone," says Katrice's sister Chante Robertson. 

Katrice was set to turn 26 this week.   

It's the Highland Park neighborhood that Robert Bailey has called home for about 25 years.
During that time, he's seen some big changes and the number of murders on a downward trend.

"It's improving but it needs to stop completely, without a doubt. We got kids to raise around here. All this foolishness needs to be cut short," says Robert. 

The same result here in Highland Park is continuing elsewhere in the City of Richmond. So far this year, 31 people have been killed. That's down from 34 through this time last year.

But the problem is different in Chesterfield, Henrico and Petersburg. All three areas are seeing several more murders in 2010 compared to this time last year.

To help change that, Jo White and others formed the Guardian Angels. Their work is starting in Richmond, but will soon head to other metro areas.

"If you are in one spot, you aren't going to push them out to stop them like you'd like to. But, you push them into another neighborhood," says White. She calls the overall trend of increased murders disturbing. She says the Guardian Angels will soon be recruiting people in Petersburg and other areas to walk the streets there to rid the area of crime.  

In the meantime, Robert has one simple message to the criminals living around him."It needs to be shut down man. We need to live in peace."

For more information on the Guardian Angels, call Jo White at 937-6836.

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