An 82 percent spike in murders – from 17 in 2016 to 31 so far this year – puts a blemish on an overall 10 percent drop in violent crime in Fresno this year. The numbers were broken down by Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer on Wednesday.
The spike in murders is partially fueled by mass killings, four by Kori Ali Muhammad in April and three during a home invasion gun battle in southeast Fresno on June 6, along with a violent Memorial Day weekend in which three people were shot to death.
Dyer announced the crime data after crunching the numbers with his command staff in a monthly session. The chief also provided new details about the home invasion and indicated a 30-year-old resident was justified when he used an AR-15 rifle to gun down two men from Stockton who entered the east-central home while armed.
The chief also praised the Fresno community for answering his appeal to step up in the fight against violent crime.
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After the Memorial Day weekend slayings, the entire police department – including traffic, narcotics and auto theft officers – roved the city in search of armed gang members. That yielded 61 gang arrests in southwest Fresno alone and contributed to cutting shootings there to three in the past 15 days, including two Tuesday night.
Home invasion update
In the June 6 home invasion, half brothers Xavier Williams, 23, and Elijah Mays Sr., 27, who Dyer said were from Stockton, were slain after they went into a home in the 5200 block of East Hammond Avenue and reportedly held Chong Yang, 69, at gunpoint. They were surprised by Yang’s son, who was armed with an AR-15 rifle. Dyer said Chong Yang was killed by one of four rounds fired by the intruders. The son fired nine rounds from the rifle.
Dyer said police believe that the family was an unintended target of the brothers.
“It was a mistaken location,” he added.
The chief said that the brothers had a history of home invasions that targeted Southeast Asians.
Of the victims, Dyer said they were “a hard-working family” that was not involved with drug production or sales.
Violent crime in Fresno
How city statistics compare so far in 2017 to the same period in 2016: