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Recent deadly crimes highlight homicides on the rise in the Valley

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Three deadly shootings in less than 24 hours. At only eight full months into the year, Columbus now matches the number of criminal homicides reported in 2016.

Recent shootings on Ramsey Road, Farr Road, and Willard Street only highlight growing concerns of an uptick on local violent crime.

On Sunday, 19-year-old Takelia Johnson was killed on Willard Street in a drive-by shooting. Monday afternoon, 52-year-old James Fuller, a suspect wanted in Texas, fought and was shot by officers trying to bring him in. Finally, later Monday night 35-year-old Travis Porter was shot in the head on Farr Road.

Columbus investigators are still on the hunt for suspects in both Johnson and Porter's shootings.

Norman Quarles says he and Travis Porter were close friends before Porter was shot and killed.

"God urged me to reach out to him while he was in prison. We started a dialogue back and forth talking about the Lord or whatever," says Quarles.

He told News 3's Ken Martin he saw a positive change in Porter.

"I saw God really moving in his life, especially after he got shot the first time you know. He reached out to me and said, "I'm done." You know it started from there," says Quarles.

Seth Brown, the director for crime prevention in Columbus, says he's working with the community to help end the violence.

"What you'll see is homicide will continue to investigate these and close these cases. The ministers are banding together, I met with two ministers last week that want to be included in healing the city."

Brown says there are many programs trying to put an end to crime; however most are geared towards youth.

News 3 has collected data on violent crime throughout the years in Columbus.

Our current number of local criminal homicides stands at 23, the same as 2016 and the highest total since 2008. However, this figure only reflects killings the Columbus Police Department classifies as criminal. Therefore it does not include events such as Monday afternoon's officer-involved shooting, as that incident remains under investigation.

The Muscogee County Coroner's Office shows an even greater total for the year, as its data includes "any death caused by the actions of another person." This would put the total 2017 homicides at 29 so far, surpassing the 2016 total at 28.

To put the local crime rates into perspective, News 3 also compared Columbus' murder rates to those of other cities similar in population size.

Augusta, Georgia saw a total 18 criminal homicides this year and 22 in all of 2016. Richmond, Virginia has already suffered 41 homicides this year and 40 in 2016 in comparison to Columbus' total 23. Montgomery, Alabama has also seen 30 deadly crimes this year and 34 in 2016.


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