Oklahoma City police have reported 85 homicides so far in 2012. Excluding 1995, the year of the Oklahoma City bombing, that number is the highest in since 1993, when 92 homicides were reported. What’s going on? The Oklahoman spoke to police, community leaders, and people who work, volunteer and live in a small section of the northeast side, where 14 people have been killed this year within four miles of the state Capitol.
One crime hot spot is the Sooner Haven apartment complex housing 430, which an FBI drug sweep targeted in August. More than half of residents are younger than 18, and the average annual income is $12,000. In a discussion among kids at a local church, fears like being shot while asleep in bed kept creeping into the discussion. Fear of violence keeps the children who come to the church from playing outside or trusting a neighbor. In their neighborhood, it’s hard to get away from the bad stuff like violence, drugs and gangs, the children said. Almost anything — a fight over a woman, a drug deal gone bad — can prompt violent escalations between gangs. The groups fight and kill as they ply criminal trades involving drugs, prostitution, and white-collar crimes such as counterfeiting and check forgery. The spurts of violence end when police make enough arrests.