AUSTIN, Texas - Austin police arrested 61-year-old Danny Wing, for shooting a man to death in southeast Austin Thursday. Police say the murder happened in the woods in an unfamiliar homeless encampment.
Later that same day, police responded to multiple calls of stabbing attacks downtown captured on Halo cameras. The suspect, Raecala Morris was found near the ARCH, she confessed to assaulting five people.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said the violence in the homeless community is out of control.
"This is a continuing problem, we think it's getting bigger and again we talk to our officers on a daily basis and they feel like it's taking up a majority of their day," said Casaday.
The acts of violence on Austin streets has kept Gov. Greg Abbott’s eye on how the city is addressing the homeless issue. He quote-tweeted FOX 7 Austin's Jacqueline Sarkissian, saying, "Why does it seem this problem is getting worse?"
For Front Steps Executive Director Greg McCormack, the issue is multifaceted. The crowd outside of the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless has dwindled overtime about 80 percent of the people who hung around the shelter before the camping ordinance was changed never went inside. McCormack said it had nothing to do with reaching capacity, for one reason or another people just stood out there. Since the ordinance changes McCormack fewer people hang around the shelter and clients feel safer coming in.
"In the downtown area, in the area around the shelter here we have not noticed or felt an increase in violence in fact the activity around the area has decreased from six months ago,” said McCormack. "Some of the rhetoric that has gone back and forth from the city and the state's office has not been helpful in what we are trying to do, we are trying to help people who are homeless we are trying to provide additional resources for the homeless, we are trying to understand what the needs are."
Is there an increase in homeless crime? It's a question that is not easily quantified because the Austin Police Department's system does not keep track of people's living situations. Both McCormack and Casaday agree there needs to be data in order to understand the full scope of the problem.
"The city continues to say it's not a problem, you've got your police department that deals with it on a daily basis that says it is a problem we need to keep track of that the department needs to keep a check of when it deals with homeless individuals," Casaday said.
In response to recent assaults, Police Chief Brian Manley deployed additional officers and resources downtown beginning Friday. He said DPS troopers will be working with his department come Monday to develop a plan to increase public safety.
Abbott released a statement Friday,