Fresno police say gang violence, homicide rate increasing

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno police say the murder rate is already up 45 percent over 2011. In 2012, so far, officers have investigated 32 murders.

At the same time in 2011, there were 22.

A 35-year-old man was the latest victim. He died at the Whispering Woods apartment complex early Tuesday morning. Police aren't releasing many details about the circumstances but investigators are working nonstop to solve an overwhelming number of homicides.

Fresno police say the homicide early Tuesday morning was another gang-related shooting.

This year, gang violence has been an increasing problem in Fresno. Despite more officers patrolling problem areas, the shootings and murders continue to rise.

"I can't imagine what violent crime would look like in our city if we weren't doing the things that we are doing today. But we are constantly trying to reassess the strategies, reassess what we are doing to see if we can do things better," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

Police say 19 of the 32 homicides this year involve gangs.

Investigators say the victim of Tuesday's shooting, has been identified as Billy Ray Burrell. Police say although Burrell is a victim in this crime, he is a gang member who was released from prison under the controversial Assembly Bill 109.

The apartment complex where Burrell was found is a place Fresno Police patrol everyday.

Ashley Reyes just moved into the complex last week and is already moving out. She says she's seen enough in a few short days. The homicide didn't even surprise her.

"Since then, I've already experienced several fights, there was about 7 gunshots last night, there's people smoking drugs right outside my apartment," Reyes said.

Police say last year the City of Fresno had one of the lowest homicide rates on record at just 35. On average the city investigates 45 homicides a year. This compares to the highest number of homicides in 1993, when 97 people were killed.

Officers say with about 20 thousand gang members in Fresno, and many recently out of prison, it's a constant challenge to police such a violent group.

No arrests have been made in Tuesday's murder, but police say they do have some strong leads.

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