2016 Des Moines Homicide Total Down from 2015's Two-Decade High

Dec 16, 2016

The number of homicides in the City of Des Moines hit a two-decade high last year. But one year later, it appears 2015 is an anomaly and not the start of a trend.

Last year Des Moines saw 21 homicides and this year has had 13 so far, which Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department says it about average for a city the size of Des Moines. 

"When we look at numbers," says Parizek about 2015, "it seems to be just a weird situation."

Another contributing factor to the high number of homicides in 2015 is that three of these cases were double homicides. In contrast, none of the 2016 cases are being counted as double homicides.

However, law enforcement officials believe the November shooting deaths of Des Moines Police Sgt. Tony Beminio and Officer Justin Martin of Urbandale were executed by the same alleged killer, though only Beminio was killed in Des Moines. Next year Scott Greene will be tried for two counts of first-degree murder in the same trial. 

Currently six of this year’s 13 homicide cases are open. Parzik says some of the victims in these homicides weren’t intentionally targeted, but simply caught in crossfire.

"Those are very frustrating to us, because those are cases where you have a person who, by all accounts, we can’t tell in the course of their life did anything wrong," he says. "It could have been anybody. It could have been me, could have been someone in my family sitting in a parking lot minding there own business, getting caught by a stray bullet." 

All but one of the 21 homicides from 2015 have been solved. Once the DMPD arrests a suspect in that final pending case, Parizek believes that investigation will be concluded.