Police talk about solving violent crimes and homicides in Charleston
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Charleston saw more than 10 shootings in August. The head of the Office of Investigative Services, Lt. Tony Hazelett, said he saw repeat offenders, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
“We see people getting out of jail for second degree murder and doing it again,” Hazelett said. “Not all of them are repeat offenders, but the ones we investigated, they are back in drug dealing or arms dealing or shooting.”
Five of the shootings were murder investigations. On August 26, Hazelett said Shavan Collins had been arrested in connection with a murder on Frame Street. Police said he had a lengthy criminal record and had just been released from prison.
“The main evidence that led us to the suspect was his parole ID from the Department of Corrections, so he had just been paroled for his crime, and we were able to find him at the scene” , Hazelett said.
Hazelett said Samuel Ranson, who was shot by police after shooting and killing Charleston K-9 officer Axel on Aug. 27, was also well known to police. He was wanted for a domestic stabbing in August.
“Another issue I see is when you respond to these violent crimes or violent offenders like the Saturday Axel was shot,” Hazelett said. “The likelihood of someone getting shot is high because you react to the shots and try to get the criminals off the street.”
Hazelett said that in all of the homicides this year, those charged were from the Charleston area.
“We don’t blame the justice system. We don’t blame the justice system; this is only part of it. We have a job to do and we will investigate this,” Hazelett said.
Another problem the police face when they go to investigate is uncooperative victims.
“So that means we have another shooter there because the victim isn’t cooperating, and that’s very, very frustrating for an investigator,” Hazelett said.
Over the past five years, Hazelett said the number of homicide investigations was similar. The majority of this year’s murder investigations took place on Charleston’s West Side.
“Last year we had 13 homicides and we solved 12. Right now we’re at 11 homicides and we solved 10,” Hazelett said.
He explained that only some of the homicides are drug-related.
“A lot of people quickly jump on the drug-related topic when you start investigating these crimes. The majority of these crimes are non-drug related,” Hazelett said.
He said ways to tackle crime include more patrols in high-crime areas, forming neighborhood watches and reporting problems.
The response time for shootings in Charleston is under a minute and these higher patrols are in the East End, West Side and Kanawha Town areas.
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