Murder map: San Antonio homicides rose in 2020, fueled by domestic violence

SAN ANTONIO – As much of the focus was on rising coronavirus cases in 2020, another concerning trend arose — a sharp increase in homicides.

In 2020, San Antonio saw 128 homicides, according to records obtained and compiled by KSAT 12 News.

That’s a 22% increase over 2019, when 105 homicides were reported, and the most since 2016, when 151 killings were reported in San Antonio.

Prior to 2020, homicide numbers were on the decline for three straight years in the Alamo City.

You can view each incident, including the date and location of the homicide, victim’s name, and actor or alleged actor (if known by police) in the map below. You can filter by weapon on the left.

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Like many other major cities in the United States, San Antonio experienced an increase in killings last year that erased years of progress made in deterring violent crime.

The pandemic allowed for a “perfect storm” that resulted in a nationwide surge in homicides, according to Thomas Abt, a senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice.

“Urban violence is perpetrated by a small number of high-risk individuals, and they drive a disproportionate amount of the violence in a city,” Abt told U.S. News and World Report. “The pandemic placed those individuals under physical, mental and financial strain.”

In an interview with KSAT 12, San Antonio Police Lt. Michelle Ramos agreed that the factors from the pandemic may at least be partially responsible for the rise in homicides, but what concerns her more are the domestic violence figures.

Family violence cases made up at least 30 of the 2020 killings in San Antonio, a trend that first concerned advocates last summer. In 2019, 21 family violence homicides were reported, Ramos said.

“I remember going to maybe three scenes within a two-month period where you had several family members that were killed,” Ramos said.

Those high-profile cases include Karina Dietering who fatally shot her two children, ages 3 and 5, after losing custody of them last April. She also killed her mother, 68-year-old Galina Taypina. Dietering then turned the gun on herself.

In June, Staff Sgt. Jared Esquibel Harless and his wife were found dead inside their car with their four young children — who ranged in age from 11 months to 4. The medical examiner’s office had determined the family died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The event was deemed to be a murder-suicide based on a cryptic note police found on the front door of the home.

Days later, Lisa Theroux, 50, called police to tell her she killed her parents, James and Elizabeth Browning. As police officers arrived, they heard a gunshot in the backyard. Theroux was found there with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her head and later died of her injuries. Police had previously said the parents were in “failing health” and that Theroux had been taking care of them for days before the shooting.

San Antonio police responded to roughly 80,000 family violence-related calls in 2020, and those calls can take a toll on officers, Ramos said.

“I think people don’t realize as an officer, you’re a human being and to make that scene and to see these young children … a lot of these officers have children at home and (wonder), ‘What could have been done differently to prevent that from happening,’” she said.

In an effort to stem the surge in family violence, the City of San Antonio hosted its first-ever Domestic Violence Symposium last October. The event was intended to help people help catch domestic violence red flags and speak up when they see someone in trouble.

Ramos said the department has also added members to the Crisis Response Team, who help victims when police are called to a domestic incident. The department has also added CRT members to the night shift, so they can assist families “around the clock.”

“We just want victims to know that the San Antonio Police Department is always here to help them,” Ramos said. “We want them to come forward because we want to end the violence, help our victims and provide outreach and services for them.”

For a list of other resources, head to KSAT’s Domestic Violence Resource Page.

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