KILLEEN, TX — Killeen already had a reputation for a higher crime rate than most of Central Texas. Now it is facing a rise in homicides.
After the number of murders doubled from 2018 to 2019, there have been an equal number of murders during the first six months of 2020 compared to all of last year.
One of Killeen's latest killings happened a little too close to Tammy Harmon's home, she says. That's because it happened practically in the driveway of her duplex.
"All of a sudden I heard a gunshot. I didn't pay too much attention because it's pretty normal in this neighborhood to be honest with you. And I heard someone screaming uncontrollable," she said.
Uncontrollable screams, Harmon says, she can never forget.
Killeen reported 7 murders in 2018. Then, in 2019, the murder rate more than doubled to 16. Now, barely six months into 2020, 16 people have already been killed in Killeen.
Killeen Police Chief Charles Kimble calls the jumps disappointing.
2020 started off with two murders in January. February brought 3. March winds blew in 7. Things calmed down in April with zero killed. Two more in May brings us to 16.
Chief Kimble aims to stop it.
”We're going to bring all of our resources to, to stop that. If you're involved in the trafficking of weapons, we're going to come after you to stop that because the common denominator in most of the cases is weapons, handguns,” he said.
Killeen Police say they have tried to stay proactive against crime, performing a sweep of this neighborhood in March. But when murder happens practically at your doorstep, Tammy Harmon describes it this way.
"It was right next door. It's too close. It really is. It's too close. You know, even though I pray for the family, that everyone is gonna be ok and will be, but it is scary. It's just too close," she explained.