WILKES-BARRE — The city ended the first quarter of 2014 with no homicides, a stark contrast to the first three months of 2013 when there were three lives taken by violent crime.
The news gets better.
It’s been nearly five months since the last homicide in the city, when a woman died from gunshot wounds prosecutors say she suffered in the Sherman Hills apartment complex on Nov. 11.
Police Chief Gerard Dessoye said he is pleased with the reduction of homicides, although he noted that the year still has nine months to go.
“There hasn’t been a homicide in awhile, but we’re still reacting to 13 homicides in the 2013 calender year,” Dessoye said. “I’m optimistic this year will be better. Time will tell.”
City detectives are busy with 12 homicide cases from 2013. One case was closed due to the death of the accused who was charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Six homicide cases resulted in charges being filed, while six homicide cases remain open, according to city crime statistics and court records.
In late July, when the city’s seventh homicide was reported, Dessoye redeployed officers by increasing the department’s anti-crime unit hoping to reduce violent crime. The police chief said it is “way to early” to report if the redeployment has worked, but he was quick to note the police have “made a lot of arrests and took a lot of guns off the streets.”
“You would hope that was the result,” Dessoye said. “If that’s the case, we did a good job and we made the right decisions. Is it because we reacted proactively? I can’t tell you that until the end of the year.”
Dessoye credited not only his officers but also state police and Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, who he said planned several fugitive sweeps in the city and surrounding areas with the county sheriff’s department.
Here is a list of city’s 2013 homicide cases and where they stand:
• Jan. 17: Jamel Martin, 20, of South Welles Street, and Leroy Michael Smith, 42, of North Empire Street, both in Wilkes-Barre, were fatally shot on Scott Street, near North Wilkes-Barre Boulevard. No charges have been filed.
• March 16: Renold Julien, 26, of Wilkes-Barre, died from gunshot wounds outside Locals 88 tavern on Poplar Street.
• April 25: Derrick Cottle, 40, of South Hancock Street, Wilkes-Barre, died from multiple gunshot wounds he suffered on Reno Lane. Shauntae Thomas, 37, of Reno Lane, was charged.
• June 25: Zachary Williams, 23, of Nanticoke, died from a gunshot wound received in a residence on North Sherman Street. Brandon Switzer, 23, was charged with involuntary manslaughter. The case was withdrawn upon Switzer’s death in January.
• July 7: Vaughn Kemp, 24, of Park Avenue, Wilkes-Barre, died from gunshot wounds he suffered on South Grant Street. Joshua Carlos Ovalles, 20, of Lent Lane, Wilkes-Barre, was charged.
• July 18: David George, 25, of South Welles Street, Wilkes-Barre, died from a single gunshot wound he suffered at 73 S. Welles St. No charges have been filed.
• Sept. 13: Christopher Narainasami, 18, of Hazle Street, Wilkes-Barre, died from gunshot wounds he received while walking in the Boulevard Townhomes on South Welles Street. Jordan Stevens, 27, of North River Street, Wilkes-Barre, was charged.
• Sept. 26: Jane Aiello, 46, was fatally shot in her home on Andover Street. Her husband, Vito Aiello, 47, was charged.
• Oct. 13: Michael Robert Onley II, 34, of Madison Street, died from a single gunshot wound he suffered while standing in the patio area of Outsiders Bar and Restaurant, South Main Street. No charges have been filed.
• Oct. 13: Antonio Evans, 2 months old, of North Washington Street, died from multiple traumatic injuries. No charges have been filed.
• Nov. 6: Eduardo Madera, 47, died from multiple gunshot wounds he suffered in a residence on East Northampton Street. Lamar Curry-Davis, 19, of Cleveland, Ohio, was charged.
• Nov. 11: Shantique Goodson, 27, of North Meade Street, Wilkes-Barre, died from multiple gunshot wounds she suffered in the Sherman Hills apartment complex. Kenneth Evans III, 21, of South Empire Street, Wilkes-Barre, was charged.