A number of violent crimes dominated the headlines in the Tulsa area in 2012.
However, the number of homicides in the city dropped drastically from 2009, when a record high of 71 homicides took place, to 46 homicides in 2012.
Those improved numbers certainly do not ease the pain felt by the families of the victims.
The victims were our neighbors, fathers, mothers, recent high-school graduates murdered in gang shootings. In some cases, it was mistaken identity.
While the murder rate is moving in the right direction the fight to protect neighborhoods from those who care nothing about the law or innocent families is far from over.
A mother who was waking to the store to get milk for her four-year-old and eight-year-old daughters was gunned down.
"For me 2012, was a horrible year and in my heart, the devil won, that was the devil's year,” said Emma Jean Hall.
Her daughter, 25-year old Shametra Fields, was killed in the street after she witnessed a double shooting. Those victims lived.
"My baby is dead because there are two bad guys that I know the police would have love to have gotten and kept them locked up but it didn't happen. My baby is gone," said Hall.
The suspects, Everett Wilson, 21 and Ronnie Jones or Roach, 23, were already serving time and were either on probation or serving a suspended sentence for drugs, theft or weapons crimes.
"I give them [police] kuddos. It's a good thing that the homicide rate is down because it means they did their job, they set their presence and they let it be known that they were out for the bad guys. I give them credit for that," said Hall.
The accused killers are just two of the hundreds of suspects arrested in connection with violent crimes in 2012. Those arrests helped bring the homicide rate down 35 percent from three years ago.
"If you are going to do that in 2013 we are going to be after you," said TPD Homicide Sergeant Dave Walker.
In 2012, during the anti-gang initiative called Operation Triple Beam, The Northern Oklahoma Violent Crimes Task Force (made up of US Marshals and TPD Fugitive Warrants officers) and gang officers locked up more than a 100 gang members.
Burglary and robbery detectives are also helping homicide detectives aggressively go after any gun carrying criminal and some are facing federal charges.
“We are all one big group that is trying to suppress the evil that is out there," said Walker.
However, of the 46 homicides in 2012, nine are unsolved.
In February of 2012, 21-year-old LaHarry “LJ” Myers Jr. was gunned down running across the street to grab some dinner during his break from H&R Block on North Peoria.
"He was trying to be on the straight and narrow and what does he get for that? He gets shot down. What does that tell everyone else? No matter how good you are no one has your back,” said LaHarry Myers Sr.
His father said LJ was a high school basketball start who was getting ready to be a father. His daughter wasn’t born yet when he died. Only rumors and theories on who killed LJ circulate but no solid leads. His family said he was ambushed and set up. LJ wasn’t a gang member but police believe his murder has gang ties.
LJ Myers homicide is one of nine unsolved homicides from 2012.
"They are all open they all mean something and we are working just as hard on each murder to put a murderer in jail,” said Walker.
Homicide detectives believe they know the suspects in eight of last year’s unsolved murders. However, they are still trying to prove who pulled the trigger.
"I don't beg. I was raised to take care of my own business. Things will be handled in time. Patience is a virtue,” said Myers Sr.
As officers begin 2013, they begin where they left off in 2012.
"We are going to target the most dangerous to the citizens," said Walker. Dropping the homicide rate is only a start. One murder is one too many.
"That is was hurts me so much, I am glad that the homicide rate is down but it is not brining my baby back," said Hall.
Homicide detectives said there is younger group of known shooters who need to be caught and they plan to target them this month.
Several violent crimes in 2012 were solved thanks to Crime Stoppers.
The Crime Commission paid out thousands of dollars in rewards to anonymous tipsers Crime Stoppers tipsters have always remained anonymous and have never been called to court to testify.
If you have any information call Crime Stoppers at (918) 596-COPS (2677) or text a tip to “CRIMES” (274637) and begin your message with “TIP918” or you can submit a tip online at www.tipsubmit.com.
Remember you never have to give your name and your tip could lead to a cash reward.