Fort Worth

Fort Worth Murders Soar Past 100, the Most in 25 Years

Fort Worth police can't explain surge, don't categorize murders

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Fort Worth has surpassed 100 murders this year – a 60% jump over the same time last year and the most in 25 years, police say.

In one of the most recent cases, Dwayne Brazzell, an oil and gas worker and a Lewisville High School football standout in the 1990s, was shot and killed in his car while he was at a stop sign in south Fort Worth.

"My brother, he was the life of the party,” his brother Shannon Brazzell told NBC 5. “You know, big smile."

Shannon and his other brother Danielle said they had no idea who would have murdered him.

“I just think (he was in) the wrong place at the wrong time,” Danielle said.

Brazzell, 44, is one of 102 Fort Worth murder victims so far in 2020, compared to 62 during the same period last year.

"Our citizens are being victimized and our murder rate and our violent crime rates continue to go higher and higher,” said Manny Ramirez, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association.

Ramirez faulted a shortage of officers and a change in police tactics -- a pullback from what he calls “proactive” policing.

"I would say it can't be attributed at all to COVID-19 because some of these homicides are directly linked to gang activity. They're linked to narcotics activity,” Ramirez said.

He also said too many officers have been reassigned recently from the Special Response Team, targeting crime trends in specific neighborhoods, to the mental health unit.

But other experts point to the virus as a major factor in murder rates going up nationwide.

"This is a problem across the United States,” said Tarleton State University law enforcement expert Alex del Carmen.

He said the virus is linked to an increase in domestic violence.

"We see they're actually increasing at a dramatic rate,” del Carmen said. “And when we're asked why that's happening, you look at COVID, the fact people have been in their homes in many cases since earlier this year."

In Fort Worth, there's a lack of information that might put the increase in context.

Notably, police said they had no numbers that break down murders by category, and police release little information about murders on social media or on their public website.

In contrast, cities like Arlington post detailed information listing every murder -- and even the status of each case. Dallas police post updates on murders and arrests on its blog.

As for the weekend murder of Dwayne Brazzell, it remains unsolved.

"I didn't expect my brother to be murdered in the street like a dog,” said Shannon Brazzell, who also played football at Lewisville High School and went on to play at TCU.

He said he understands the pain of the more than 100 other families who have also lost a loved one just this year.

"There's a lot of people hurting. If they feel like I'm feeling and my family is feeling," he said. "That's a lot of hurt throughout Fort Worth."

The Fort Worth Police Department declined to do an interview for this story but did answer questions via email.

Officer Daniel Segura said each case is different and the department does not categorize murders, so it cannot offer context about trends or motives.

He added the department has no immediate plans to release more information on its website.

Two detectives have been added to the homicide squad to help with the surge of cases, he said.

The department is in the process of hiring more officers.

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