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Public safety committee calls 2021 homicides in San Antonio a 'sobering' statistic

According to the city's uniform crime reporting data, the 160 homicides reported last year are the highest total in six years.

SAN ANTONIO — An alarming number of murders was reported in San Antonio in 2021.

The San Antonio Police chief reported 160 homicides last year, and while those numbers are preliminary, they could be the highest in at least 10 years, according to the city’s uniform crime reporting data.

The crimes leave an impact on victims and their families.

Nearly six years ago—a San Antonio mom lost her only son.

“What still goes through my mind is who, who did this to my son and why?” Janie Esparza’s son Isaac Orosco was killed outside his apartment on the northwest side in 2016.

A black SUV captured on surveillance video is the only sight of the suspect, but Esparza says she continues her pursuit of finding her son’s killer.

When Esparza sees 160 homicides reported in San Antonio in 2021, it’s concerning.

“I don’t understand how these people live with themselves knowing they know something, who took my son’s life or somebody else’s life,” Esparza said.

On Tuesday morning, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus says most of the cases can be split into disorganized and organized crime. He says many of the murders are spontaneous and are happening all over the city.

“I attribute a lot of this, and believe me there’s exceptions, but I attribute a lot of this violent crime to high risk behavior,” Chief McManus said.

Chief McManus said people engaged in high risk behavior such as running in a gang, dealing drugs or soliciting prostitution will result in a higher chance of getting hurt, but maintained anyone who isn’t involved in high-risk behavior are safer.

“I maintain San Antonio is a safe city unless you’re engaging in a high risk lifestyle,” Chief McManus said.

According to the report—65 percent of the motives for homicides are either unknown or due to an argument.

Chief McManus says another challenge is getting victims and witnesses to cooperate with police.

“There’s a lot of folks that are getting out pre-trial, low bond or no bond even for violent crimes, people are afraid of retaliation and justifiably so,” Chief McManus said.

Esparza encourages witnesses or suspects to speak up about a crime to provide closure to families.

“How would they feel if it was one of their family members or one of their kids? How would they feel if that happened to their family? I’m sure they would want somebody to speak up, the same way with my family. I want somebody to speak up about my son,” Esparza said.

The San Antonio public safety committee called the statistics sobering on their Tuesday.

Many ideas were discussed about how to create change in San Antonio, among them was bond reform and trying to address family violence in San Antonio.

The committee asked the police department to come up with recommendations to address crime at their next meeting in February.