WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Wichita Falls has seen more homicides in 2022 than in any other year in the 2000s, but is there a reason why? Or, is Wichita Falls becoming unsafe?

It’s hard to turn on the television in Wichita Falls without hearing about the city’s latest homicide.

On Thursday, October 27, 2022, the latest homicide in Wichita Falls occurred when Michael Dewayne Allen, 45, was found dead in the front yard of the 700 block of Welch Street around 9 p.m.

Officials with the Wichita Falls Police Department said there’s no need for public panic.

“We do want to tell our citizens that this is an isolated incident and make sure they have nothing to fear,” WFPD Public Information Officer Sgt. Charlie Eipper said. “This isn’t a random act or something like that.”

But it’s difficult to feel safe when the number of homicides keeps growing. Wichita Falls has already seen the highest number of murders in over two decades this year… And there are still two months to go before 2023.

“It’s hard to determine, we’re talking about the offense of murder,” Sgt. Eipper said. “You can’t predict it, it’s not something that you really patrol to stop, it’s just so unpredictable, I don’t think we can put our finger on just exactly what’s causing that.”

Homicides in 2022

Homicide rates have been on the rise for several years. After seeing a significant dip in 2014 and 2015, rates have risen every year since 2018. But why?

“You know, I don’t know if we can give a reason why, of course, we’ve had two fentanyl-related overdose deaths that are considered homicides and we’ve arrested three people and charged them with murder on those two,” Sgt. Eipper said. “We’ve had one officer-involved shooting.”

But police said there’s no string that connects these murders, despite the fact that there have been more this year than in years past.

“There’s been some that are involving drugs, the fight over drugs,” Sgt. Eipper said. “We’re seeing some more related to the drug scene, anger issues, or some kind of family issue that goes on.”

Sgt. Eipper has been with the Wichita Falls Police Department for nearly three decades. He said the increase in violent crimes isn’t specific to Wichita Falls.

“I think some of these that we’ve talked about we’re seeing all around the nation, not just here,” Sgt. Eipper said. “They are isolated, they’re not just random acts of violence out there. So our citizens can feel safe.”

One thing Sgt. Eipper said should put citizens’ minds at ease… The number of murders solved. Police have made arrests in 16 of this year’s 18 homicides. And in the city’s most recent homicide Thursday night, they’re already tracking down the main suspect.

“We do have a warrant out for Sidney Garcia for the offense of murder right now,” Sgt. Eipper said. “And, we’re still looking for him. If anyone has information on him or his whereabouts. please give us a call.”

Sgt. Eipper gave credit to detectives in the Crimes Against Persons Unit.

“Nothing but praise for them,” Sgt. Eipper said. “I think the reason why we’re so successful is the training they receive, the experience that we have in there, they’ve got great leadership. And their detectives, they’re committed.”

Detectives work countless hours on little sleep, building their cases in order to bring charges against those who commit these homicides. That’s why they’ve been able to solve almost every murder that’s occurred this year.

“They care about our citizens, they care about bringing justice to the victims and their families, and that’s why they work so hard,” Sgt. Eipper said.

So, while the increased number of homicides is certainly cause for alarm, Sgt. Eipper wants the Citizens of Wichita Falls to know that they’re looking out for them.

“I don’t think it makes the city more dangerous,” Sgt. Eipper said. “I think we do have a peaceful town, great town, great citizens, and I don’t think this will change it.”