As the city moves into 2017, the Mobile Police Department is putting a particularly deadly year behind it — one marked by a high number of homicides and an unusual volume of shootings involving teenagers.
In 2016, MPD investigated 43 homicides, and of those, 13 were still unsolved at the year’s end. Previously, MPD Chief James Barber told Lagniappe that Mobile’s “10-year average” for homicides is usually around 30.
While last year’s figure is higher than average, the rate of murders is not unprecedented. Mobile recorded 42 murders as recently as 2008. There were also 51 homicides in 1996 as well as 53 in 1997 — the highest murder rate the city has documented in the past three decades.
Also in 2016, officials grew increasingly concerned by the deaths of more than a dozen teenagers, many of whom were victims of gun violence or accidental shootings. The issue rose to the forefront following a rash of violence in October that led MPD to crack down on certain “hot spot” crime areas while increasing its focus on preventing teenagers from accessing firearms.
“We as a community cannot allow the senseless and indiscriminate violent gun crimes to continue,” Barber said at the time. “The Mobile Police Department is committed to removing guns that are in the hands of our youth and from others that are forbidden by law from carrying firearms.”
Through Operation City H.E.A.T. (Heightened Enforcement and Apprehension Tactics), MPD began conducting “directed patrol operations” in late October — using intelligence-led tactics like warrant service, safety checkpoints, curfew enforcement and periodic probation checks. In its first day, City H.E.A.T. led to 15 citations, 13 misdemeanor arrests, 12 felony arrests and the recovery of at least three illegal firearms.
Officers have continued to conduct those types of operations throughout the past two months, though Barber was unavailable to provide an update on their status in time for this report.
Police in Mobile have touted the use of cash as an incentive for providing information related to pending homicide investigations. The tactic recently led to a break in one of the year’s more troubling murders, the shooting of 25-year-old Delauna Anderson Powell, who was killed on Oct. 18 during an attempted carjacking.
The MPD is still offering a $5,000 cash reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction in any of the remaining unsolved cases from 2016. All rewards are paid without compromising a tipster’s anonymity, and information can be reported by calling the MPD at 251-208- 7211 or through Crimestoppers of Southwest Alabama at 251-208-7000 and via text at TIP573.
Mobile’s unsolved homicides from 2016:
Angelo Quinnie — Quinnie, 24, was found stabbed to death Jan. 8, near the 1400 block of Clover Leaf Circle in Mobile. No suspect has been identified in this case.
William Blevins — Blevins, 48, was found near the 1900 block of Canal Street on Jan. 21. According to police, Blevins was shot and his body was discovered in a witness’ front yard next to the open driver’s side door of an SUV.
Corenzo Rogers — Rogers, 18, was shot and killed in the area of Butler Street at Warsaw Avenue on March 15. Officers responded to a call about a shooting in the same area around 7 p.m. that evening and upon their arrival found Rogers’ body in a vacant lot.
Darius Mose — Officers discovered the body of Mose, 21, after he was shot and killed during an incident at the Warren Inn on Airport Boulevard that occurred shortly before 11 p.m. on March 23.
Lonnie Rayford — On June 2, Rayford, 48, was found deceased in the back seat of a vehicle near the intersection of Jackson and Government streets in downtown Mobile. He was found suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. Police said Rayford had been in “a verbal argument with a group of unknown females,” when one of them shot and killed Rayford.
Kerry Muzzey — Muzzey, a 70-year-old resident of Midtown Mobile, was found beaten to death in his home on Mt. Island Drive West on July 2. The only information police have given are statements suggesting robbery was not a motive and that Muzzey likely knew his killer.
Justin Sanders — On Oct. 10, the 33-year-old Sanders was found shot to death inside one of the dugouts at Baumhauer Park, which is located at 1909 Duval St. in Mobile.
William Hall — Hall, 62, was found lying on the side of St. Stephens Road after suffering an apparent gunshot wound on Oct. 14. Hall was transported to a local hospital but ultimately died as a result of his injuries.
Gary McCovery — McCovery, 35, was shot multiple times and had died by the time police found him lying near the roadway at the intersection of 8th Street and Lincoln Boulevard on Oct. 15.
Keith Washington — Police believe Washington, 32, died from a single gunshot wound on Oct. 16. Washington’s body was found on the side of the road near the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Interstate 65.
Demetrius Clemons — Clemons, 24, was found shot to death inside a vehicle near the 2600 block of Farnell Drive at approximately 1 a.m. on Oct. 23. Clemons was deceased upon the MPD’s arrival.
Michael Baker — Baker, 38, was found deceased in the 100 block of South Scott Street in the early hours of Nov. 3. Police responded to a call of “one down” inside the Church Street Cemetery. Upon arrival, police discovered Baker had died from gunshot wounds.
Desmond Norwood — Norwood, 24, was Mobile’s final homicide victim of 2016. After receiving a call about a shooting on New Year’s’ Eve — Dec. 31, 2016 — police discovered Norwood lying in the driveway on Hartsfield Way South suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Norwood was transported to a local hospital but later died from his injuries.