WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)—2022 saw a big spike in homicides, with the highest number by far in 30 years or more.
Curtis Jackson takes a look back at some of the 18 homicides that took place this year, keeping police busy, and hoping 2023 does not see a repeat. In 2021 homicides rose to the highest number for Wichita Falls since the early nineties, with 14, and 2022 far exceeded that, with 18 homicides in our community. Those numbers compare to an average of under 6 for the previous several years.
Sergeant Charlie Eipper of the Wichita Falls Police Department said this year is possible record number of homicides includes two Fentanyl overdose deaths as well as an officer-involved shooting.
In a span of 6 months, 15 people died from Fentanyl in Wichita Falls alone. Law enforcement gathered back in August to spread the word on how dangerous the drug really is. From January 2022 to July 2022, police reported around 50 cases involving Fentanyl, 15 of them resulting in death, and the District Attorney let dealers know overdose deaths would be treated as homicide or manslaughter.
Another murder that shook the Wichita Falls community was the brutal beating of 23-year-old Zachary Wood. Officers responded to the 21-hundred block of Brown Street back in May, where they found Wood dead from a savage beating. Detectives interviewed 27- year old Payton Collier, and said she confessed to being involved in the murder and named two other suspects, 18-year-old Ronnie Lang and 28-year-old William Bell were found and interviewed, as was Ashley Esselborn. Eipper said the suspects knew Wood, and the murder happened because of an alleged theft committed by Wood.
Ronnie Lang pleaded guilty on September 2nd, for 50 years in prison, and was transferred to the Middleton Unit in Abilene on October 21st, while Bell is out on bond. Collier and Esselborn were also granted lower bonds, but remain behind bars. Police said one defendant told them Wood was assaulted by Lang and Bell, with a bat, hands, and feet, and that Bell said Lang was the one who used the bat.
Making headlines back in February was an officer-involved shooting that occurred in front of Walmart on Lawrence Road. Officers stopped 29-year-old Dustin Davidson’s Honda Accord at about 8:40 at night in the parking lot, to serve an arrest warrant. They say he was in the front passenger seat, and a female was driving. As officers approached the car, Davidson opened fire, and officers returned fire, hitting him several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was also injured, and taken to United Regional with a non-life-threatening injury.