Houston close to surpassing two-decade homicide record as murder rate continues to soar

City has seen 44% increase year to date

Deadly weekend in Houston
Deadly weekend in Houston

HOUSTON – Houston’s murder rate is surging and the Houston Police Department is investing $4 million into trying to tamp it down. But over the weekend, the numbers continued to surge with five new killings.

One of the homicides was reported in Ghazi Issa’s neighborhood, near the intersection of E. Greenridge Dr. and Skyline Dr in southwest Houston.

Issa has lived in the neighborhood for decades and says since the pandemic, the streets have gotten meaner.

“We do need more policing. (We need) more protection for this area,” he said.

Over the weekend, someone dumped the body of a 22-year-old transgender woman in the street near his apartment.

Issa said he uses Uber now more than in the past to try to stay off the streets.

“I used to walk by the bayou over there, I stopped two months ago. I don’t feel secure. It is a dangerous area,” he said

Houston’s murder rate is surging, now up 44% year to date, with a total of 358 homicides. Officials said nearly 50 homicides have been reported since mid-October.

Issa’s neighborhood is one of the designated hot spots in town where police are beefing up patrols, spending $4 million for overtime. A strategy HPD Chief Art Acevedo said will work.

“Because we now historically, when you increase your footprint in an area, violent crime goes down,” Acevedo said.

Part of the problem is that money alone isn’t enough. The department is having trouble putting extra eyes on the street because so many officers have been forced into quarantine due to COVID-19, Acevedo said.