Austin in July doubled the homicide death toll from the same month last year, but the total number of killings in 2022 are still six fewer than the death toll in the first seven months of 2021, the city's deadliest year for homicides.
Authorities this week confirmed that at least eight people died in homicides last month, with seven of the victims being men. Six of the victims died from gunshot wounds, one from blunt force trauma and another from stabbing injuries.
Two of the homicides occurred on a Saturday, two on Friday, and one each on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Austin police responded to seven of the calls in the evening and one in the morning.
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Last year, authorities had tallied a total of 49 homicides in Austin from Jan. 1 through July 31, with four homicides in that July alone. The year ended with 89 homicides, the most such deaths since at least the 1960s, when Austin police began keeping those kinds of records. The death toll last year was more than the number of killings in 2019 and 2020 combined.
According to police records going back to 1960, Austin's previous record for homicides in a year was 59 in 1984, when the homicide rate was 13.2 per 100,000 residents.
While Austin's 89 homicides in 2021 were well above the 59 reported in 1984, the homicide rate last year was 9.25 per 100,000 residents. The homicide rate was 3.4 in 2019 and 4.4 in 2020.
The eight homicides reported this July brought the number of violent killings in 2022 so far to 43, already surpassing the totals in 2017 (25), 2018 (32) and 2019 (38). Austin is just six homicides away from surpassing the 2020 total of 48, police records show.
At least 33 of those killed from January through July of this year died from shooting injuries.
Robbery turns deadly
Police responded to the first homicide in July at about 10:20 p.m. July 3 in the 800 block of Interstate 35 North near downtown. Authorities received a call from 34-year-old Duvan Betancourth-Gonzalez, who told dispatchers that he was robbed by multiple people. That group ran away from the scene, leaving a vehicle behind.
Betancourth-Gonzalez was found in his vehicle with gunshot wounds. He died at the scene, police said.
Investigators believe the shooting began as a robbery, and then escalated into a homicide. A person of interest connected to the case has been identified.
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Three homicides within 24 hours
Austin police next responded to three more homicides - all within 24 hours - with the youngest victim being just 15 years old.
Austin police at about 5 p.m. July 8 responded to a shooting in the 12100 block of Jollyville Road in North Austin. Jacklyn Ensign, 30, told dispatchers during the initial call that she had shot someone, prompting officers to investigate. At the scene, police found 52-year-old Allen Geisel with gunshot wounds. Geisel died at the scene, according to investigators. Ensign was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Investigators said the situation started as a domestic dispute before Ensign pulled out a gun.
Police the next day were called to a tent behind a hotel in the 9900 block of North Lamar Boulevard at about 7:20 a.m. Police found Michael Richardson with gunshot wounds. Medics attempted CPR, but Richardson died - the day before he was to turn 38 years old. Investigators believe an argument broke out between Richardson and another man, leading to the shooting. Cesar Lopez, 21, was arrested last week and charged with first-degree murder.
Then at 5:17 p.m. July 9, authorities were called to the 1400 block of Blakeney Lane near the Copperfield Trails in response to a third shooting. Austin-Travis County EMS medics found a man who had been shot and took him to the hospital with injuries not considered to be fatal. However, police found a second victim, 15-year-old Quade Goode, on the trail. Goode died at the scene from gunshot wounds, according to police. Investigators have confirmed a person of interest in the two shootings, police said.
Deadly robbery was random attack, police believe
Authorities responded about 11 p.m. July 20 to reports of a shooting in the 500 block of West Oltorf Street in South Austin, where officers found 28-year-old Rony Mateo-Comapa, who died at the scene from gunshot wounds.
Investigators say Mateo-Comapa was pumping gas when multiple people in a vehicle approached him, shot him and stole his vehicle. Authorities found the vehicle hours later on Elmont Drive, but did not find anyone with the vehicle, police said.
Stabbing on East 12th Street
The next day, July 21, Austin police found 36-year-old Edarius Johnson on the corner of East 12th and Red River streets with stab wounds.
Johnson was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center, where he later died, according to police. Investigators believe Johnson and another man might have gotten into an argument before the stabbing occurred. The investigation into the case is ongoing, police said.
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Man accused of killing grandmother
In another homicide, a 27-year-old man was accused of killing his grandmother July 22 after an argument in the 4800 block of Turnstone Drive in Southeast Austin.
Kenneth Owens Jr. is accused of killing 78-year-old Yong Dennerly, with the official cause of death being blunt force trauma.
Investigators say Owens' mother called dispatchers twice: the first time to say that Owens and Dennerly were in an argument and the second time to say she believed the grandson had done something to his grandmother.
Dennerly was found by police officers on the floor of the home and pronounced dead at the scene at about 10:47 p.m., police said.
Owens, who had run away after the homicide, was found later and arrested in Southeast Austin the next day.
Final shooting in July
The final homicide and shooting in July happened at about 8 p.m. July 26 in the 4900 block of Nuckols Crossing Road in Southeast Austin, according to police.
Anthony Blaylock, 30, was the first of two victims found by authorities when they arrived at the scene. EMS medics attempted to save Blaylock's life, but he died at the scene.
A second person also was taken to a nearby hospital with gunshot wounds but survived, police said.
The shooting started as a fight between the two victims and another person, investigators found. A person of interest has been identified in the case, police said.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Austin's 2022 homicide death toll at 43; police say 8 killed in July