FW Public Safety Director talks ‘firearm problem’ and recent homicides

File photo of Rusty York
File photo of Rusty York

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Two homicides involving more than one victim – in less than a week. Fort Wayne’s Public Safety Director said he can’t remember a time when the city has seen anything like it. York sat down with NewsChannel 15 to address the city’s recent homicides.

“When you’re on a ship and you hit an iceberg, it doesn’t matter where you are on the ship you’re all endangered of sinking,” York said.

The city’s recent crime is the iceberg, and the ship’s passengers are the community. This year’s 34 homicides have not broken the city’s homicide record.  In 2013 there were 42 homicides within the city limits, and three more in Allen County.

But it’s breaking other records.

“I can recall having triple homicides but never more than one in any given year,” York said.

The tally so far this year is three.

“I think we’re all upset by it,” York said.

The latest homicides have caught the attention of larger media outlets in the state. York said he doesn’t think the crime has deterred anyone from visiting Fort Wayne, but knows it doesn’t help the city’s image.

“That’s why it’s so discouraging and upsetting, over and above the violence, Fort Wayne we’ve worked so hard to do just that- improve our image” York said.

York also believes most of the community knows why these crimes are happening.

“The victims of these crimes are involved in illegal activity,” York said.

York elaborated that you’re less likely to be a victim of a crime if you aren’t involved in it yourself. In the case of this weekend’s quadruple homicide that wasn’t the case. It was a domestic situation. In any case, York said these crimes aren’t random.

The bigger issue York wants to address is the number of guns on the streets. Fort Wayne’s homicide trend is following other urban areas where homicides are up including Chicago, Indianapolis and Memphis. York said the main reason for this spike is that more people have guns.

“A lot of people don’t like to hear this but we have to get a handle on our firearms problem,” York said. “It is a problem. Whether it is extended background checks, different manners of record keeping.”

To help solve that firearm problem, York said police work closely with the federal agencies in the city, and more officers plan to move to the homicide and gang and violent crimes units.

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