“A lot of sadness and depression and anger”: 4 shootings, 4 deaths: Phoenix ahead of last year’s homicide pace

22August 2021

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There have been at least 112 murders in Phoenix in 2021, continuing a rise we saw start last year.

PHOENIX — Over the span of 48 hours, there were four shootings, taking the lives of at least four people in Phoenix.

The weekend added to a growth of Phoenix homicides seen in recent years.

According to crime data there have been 112 homicide incidents in Phoenix between January 1 and August 7. Incidents can include more than one death.

2020 saw the most homicides in at least the last 10 years. 2021 is currently outpacing 2020.

“It’s horrible they end up being a number. They were a person. They had a life. They had families,” Dakota Baker said.

For Baker, Samuel Casas is more than a number, he was a friend and father to her 8-year-old son, Jayden.

“He was a great father, and he had so many plans and things he wanted to do with Jayden,” Baker said.

On August 7, Casas was shot while being robbed outside of his Phoenix apartment.

“He actually called me minutes after it happened,” Baker said. “He couldn’t speak. I just heard him crying in pain.”

Casas didn’t make it, leaving Baker and her son to wonder what’s next.

“They took a good man’s life and my son’s father. They robbed my son of a lifetime of memories,” Baker said.

Since then, the family is holding a GoFundMe to help with expenses.

Baker quit one of her two jobs to help watch her son. She has taken unpaid time off from her other work as she is trying to comfort him.

Casas’ family also has a GoFundMe for funeral expenses that you can donate to.

Baker and Casas’ family said they have not been told there are any leads on catching Samuel Casas’ killer.

The high death numbers were not a shock to some experts.

“The numbers are not surprising,” Jeff Hynes, Glendale Community College professor and former Phoenix Police Commander said.

He agreed with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association assessment that the Phoenix police force is understaffed by around 1,000 officers.

Hynes said friends on the force tell him that detectives are leaving investigative work to go on patrol, just to handle incoming calls.

“This is reality. You cannot be down over a 1000 police officers in a city of Phoenix,” Hynes said.

On the other end, is the current Department of Justice Investigation currently looking into the practices and policies of the Phoenix Police Department. Hynes said the increased scrutiny may have officers work in a more reactive way, instead of trying to proactively stop crimes.

“It’s going to be an incredibly horrible time to be a police officer in the city of Phoenix over the next year,” Hynes said. “Buckle up, City of Phoenix. We are going to see an increase in crime over the next three to five years”

In the meantime it’s the people who feel the pain. Jayden will now grow up without a father.

“He’s not going to be there for his birthdays or graduations or anything,” Baker said. “He has all these questions of why, and that ‘I miss my daddy.’ And every time it breaks my heart more.”

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