Lexington has experienced an increase in gun violence, but four homicides in the first 13 days of 2016 were not random, the city’s police chief said Wednesday.
Chief Mark Barnard said the homicides were not indicative of a trend. In addition to the homicides, six assaults with guns have occurred since the beginning of the year.
“We look at this year as an anomaly,” Barnard said during a news conference Wednesday, just hours after the latest killing.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson thinks the crimes are part of a national trend.
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“Lexington is not immune to the national uptick in homicides,” he said. “... Gun violence is increasing in our town, the ‘don’t-snitch’ culture is alive and well in our town.”
In all of the homicides, the victim knew the suspect or was visiting an area that had been targeted by the suspect, Barnard said.
“These are not random acts,” he said.
The chief provided updates on the progress of investigations.
Arrest warrants were issued for two adults and three juveniles in the robbery and killing of Lafayette High School graduate Caleb Hallett, Barnard said.
According to the warrants, Kenyon J. Hipps, 21; Marquess L. Smith, 18; and a 17-year-old male juvenile are charged with murder, assault and robbery. Another 17-year-old boy in police custody is charged with murder, assault and two counts of robbery, and a third 17-year-old boy in police custody has been charged with two counts of robbery.
Hallett, 18, killed early Saturday and another man was injured when they were shot in their car while leaving a parking lot behind 213 University Avenue, police said.
Hallett’s friends told the Herald-Leader they heard gunshots coming from the parking lot after Hallett left to drive another friend, Josh Baker, home. Baker was injured.
Police learned through their investigation that narcotics have been sold previously at 213 University, where there are several apartments.
"We know the victims were there and visiting that house at that time,” Barnard said. “We have, through our investigation, which is still ongoing, learned that the suspects were targeting the house, not the specific victims."
Timothy A. Brown Jr.
Lexington’s latest homicide victim was Timothy A. Brown Jr., who was found shot in a car at McDonald’s at Russell Cave and New Circle roads about 9:40 p.m. Tuesday.
Brown died of multiple gunshot wounds about 10 minutes later.
Barnard said Brown was meeting with someone he knew when he was killed. He wouldn’t say whether Brown had been shot in the restaurant parking lot or at another location.
An arrest is expected soon, Barnard said.
Joseph Allen McDowell
The year’s first homicide victim was Joseph Allen McDowell, 28, who died of multiple gunshot wounds Jan. 1 after he was found in a driveway near the sidewalk at 432 Roosevelt Boulevard.
Barnard encouraged the community to report any information that could help the investigation, which he said was “still very fluid.”
“He received a phone call and he left to meet someone, and that was the last time anyone saw him,” Barnard said of McDowell.
Corenz White, 28, died from gunshot wounds Jan. 3. Donald Owen Roark Jr., 25, of Lexington was charged with murder and tampering with evidence about 13 hours after White was found outside an apartment building at 845 Red Mile Road.
White and Roark knew each other and went to a party together with a third person they knew, Barnard said.
Barnard said Larson was handling the case.