POSTED: Friday, June 14, 2013 - 4:00am
UPDATED: Saturday, June 15, 2013 - 11:40am
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — Baton Rouge has been more dangerous than usual this week. But according to the police, the recent string of murders is no cause for additional concern.
Five people were shot and killed within the city limits since Saturday. The Baton Rouge Police Department says this is not atypical, that there are stretches where no murders take place, and stretches when they occur in bunches.
"It generally happens a few times throughout the year," according to Cpl. Tommy Stubbs, a police department spokesperson. "None of the murders are related; it's just senseless violence."
The most recent victim: 16-year-old Cameron Phillips, killed on Vickers Dr. near Belaire High School. Detectives say he was walking home at 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, and was just two blocks from his house when he was shot and killed.
One nearby resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was in shock when he heard four gun shots, "close together, like, back to back. (Phillips) was just on his back, laying down, and the police tried to lift him up, and you could tell he was dead.
"It's weird for it to happen on this street, at least. I guess he thought he was going to make it and get away, cause it's the okay part of the neighborhood."
Phillips was killed just six blocks from the spot where Brandon Carter, 25, was killed the day before. Even though the shootings happened so close together in time and location, Cpl. Stubbs said investigators do not believe a gang was responsible for either homicide.
"If it was, we would let you know," he added. "Because we are monitoring any potential gang activity in Baton Rouge."
Cpl. Stubbs said gang violence can be a cause for similar bursts of violence, as one group retaliates against another. The Baton Rouge Police Department is one of the organizations involved in the BRAVE program, which aims to curb gang violence. It currently operates only in the 70805 zip code.
"But we are looking forward to extending it to certain areas like that," he said. "The BRAVE project is going to grow."
Officers have only made one arrest in the five cases. Frank Johnson, 35, has been charged with the murder of James Williams, 43, after a dice game on June 8. Cpl. Stubbs hinted that people who live near the other murder scenes are hiding information that could lead detectives to the shooters.
"People in that area know what happened, and they know who did it," he claimed. "They know the story behind it. Call us and let us know. Get involved in the community. Together, between us and them, we can solve these murders."
The man who lives near the shooting on Vickers Dr. did not agree that his neighborhood is hiding a killer.
"I can't tell you that, I don't know", he said. "I just know it wasn't (Phillips') time to go."
Cpl. Stubbs said the recent warm weather is not to blame for the increase in shootings. He called a misconception the idea that heat causes crimes, saying no study has proven causation, and adding that the police investigate more murders in November and December most years. He did say, however, that crime often rises during the summer because of increased interactions. School is out and more people go outside, leading to more chances for criminals to find victims.