Count Lexington Police Department Chief Lawrence Weathers among those who are concerned about the city's growing homicide rate.
After two more homicides in the past two days, as well as an additional death from May that is now being declared as a homicide, Lexington now has 18 homicides this year. In a record-breaking year of 28 homicides last year, there had been just nine by July 2.
Weathers said there is no link between any of this year or last year's homicides.
"For me, there is a lot of concern. When you look at the homicide rate going up, it tends to generate fear and that fear of crime is something we have to deal with realistically," Weathers said in a Tuesday afternoon briefing.
The city is now well ahead of last year's homicide pace following a violent weekend that left two people dead. Early Sunday morning, 31-year-old Kerry Douglas Kenney was found shot dead in the backseat of a car at North Broadway and West Short.
Early Monday morning, 32-year-old Christopher Snow was found dead with a gunshot wound at East Fourth Street and Ohio Street.
Suspects have not been caught for nine of this year's 18 homicides, including the most recent two. All but one of this year's homicides were through gunfire.
In April, Lexington Police Lt. Albert Johnson said eight of the nine homicides in the city were drug related. Weathers said Monday that they are still seeing the same trends of drugs, as well as domestic disputes, leading to violence.
"You have the drug traffickers that want to avoid the police and the drug purchasers who want to avoid police," Weathers said. "What we have to do is step up our game to make sure we're getting out there, making contacts with people... not necessarily writing citations but that's part of it. But getting out, meeting people, talking to people, finding out what they're doing and why they're there. We are making an extra effort to do that."
Weathers said it is important for the public to alert police when they hear gunshots or anything that could be suspicious.
"When you hear gunshots, you need to call us. You need to report it," Weathers said. "Because if you don't report it, people will think this is the place to do it. You can't sit around and just let that happen. Public safety is everybody's concern. It's not just a job for police. We want to get out there before bad things happen."
While homicide rates are increasing, offenses including forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, breaking & entering, larceny, auto theft and arson are all down so far this year from 2017.
There is a 14.6 percent decrease in the aforementioned crimes from 2017 to 2018, according to data supplied from Lexington Police spokeswoman Brenna Angel.
"The only thing we can tell people to do is that if you're experiencing something, if you have a drug problem or a domestic problem, there are resources in the city you can turn to. We try to guide people to that," Weathers said.
Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to contact Lexington Police at 859-258-3600. Anonymous tips, including photos and videos, can be submitted by texting LEXPD plus the tip to CRIMES (274637). Information can also be sent anonymously through Bluegrass Crime Stoppers at 859-253-2020.