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Pine Bluff sees an alarming rise in homicide rate



Pine Bluff, Arkansas – Pine Bluff, a city once known for its tight-knit communities, has recently seen a spike in its homicide rates. In just two days, two individuals lost their lives to violence, pushing the city’s homicide count for 2023 past the total for the previous year.

Monday brought a distressing incident on Griderfield Ladd Road, where a man allegedly shot two individuals at a residence. Authorities are on the lookout for the prime suspect, 29-year-old Matthew Ferry. The aftermath of this shooting left one woman deceased and a man severely injured. Eyewitness accounts indicate Ferry fled the scene in a dark red Dodge Charger.

A separate incident took place on Sunday on Belmoor Drive, where another life was taken. The suspect, Donovan Cuthbertson, has been apprehended in relation to the shooting death of Racheal Crouch. Another male victim from this incident remains in critical condition.

Lynn Heagler Davis, a local resident, recalls the heart-wrenching scene she encountered after the Belmoor Drive shooting. “I looked inside the car and saw all the blood, that’s when I knew it was not an accident,” she recounted.

In a worrying trend, Pine Bluff’s Police Department reports 22 homicides for 2023. This surpasses 2022’s total of 21 and is nearing the all-time high of 30 recorded in 2021. When contrasted with the neighboring city of Little Rock, which has a larger population, Pine Bluff’s per capita homicide rate is significantly higher.

Long-time resident Davis reminisces about safer times when residents could leave their doors unlocked and stroll freely around the city. However, the present paints a grim picture, with many resorting to barring their doors and windows for added security.

With increasing crime rates, Pine Bluff has witnessed a decline in its population, job opportunities, and entertainment avenues. Davis remains hopeful, praising the efforts of the mayor and the police chief. She believes in collective responsibility and wants community leaders to step up their efforts in battling this menace. “They can’t handle this by themselves,” she emphasizes, “More needs to be done.”

For context, Little Rock, which is a much larger city, has reported 43 homicides in 2023, but Pine Bluff’s relative figures remain deeply concerning. With Little Rock having seen a record 81 homicides in 2022, it is evident that more comprehensive measures are required to address the issue in both cities.

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