FBI: Violent crime up in Stamford; property crimes down | #College. | #Students

STAMFORD — Stamford saw a rise in violent crime in the city from 2018 to 2019, according to just released FBI statistics, bucking a national trend, which shows a continuing if slow drop in serious offenses.

But a drop in property crimes showed the city in line with the nation, where non-violent crime has been descending for 17 years.

The annual FBI analysis of crime statistics compiles data from more than 16,000 federal, state, county, city, university and college agencies submitting inormation to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

In Stamford, the number of reported violent crimes — homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults — went from 218 in 2018 to 264 in 2019, an increase of 21 percent.

That increase came as a result of rises in each of those categories.

Homicides went from three in 2018 to five in 2019, a 66 percent increase. Rapes rose from 21 to 27, a 28 percent increase. Robberies went from 64 to 87, a 35 percent increase. Aggravated assaults rose from 130 to 145, an 11 percent increase, statistics show.

Chief Tim Shaw, who was appointed in March of this year, and was not in the department in 2018 or 2019, said statistics are important in determining where to put department resources to combat crime.

“We monitor where we can do better and try to reallocate our resources to where we think they will benefit us the most. I think it is important that we get all the statistics so we can respond appropriately,” Shaw said.

Assistant Chief Tom Wuennemann said no crimes are acceptable, but Stamford has a low crime rate compared with many other places, so even small increases in the number of crimes will look like large statistical jumps.

As an example he pointed to the 23 additional robberies reported in 2019, comparing Stamford’s 87 total with the city’s closest neighbors in terms of population. New Haven reported 321 and Hartford reported 271, more than three times as many as Stamford.

Capt. Richard Conklin, who heads up the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, which investigates violent crimes, said all five of the homicides committed in 2019 have been solved and only one suspect remains at large.

Three people have been killed so far this year in Stamford, with the latest homicide coming a week ago Sunday morning when Shernetta Dunmore, 35, was shot multiple times in a parking lot next to Ursula Place on Stamford’s East Side.

The first homicide that occurred in Stamford in 2019 happened to a New York man, who came to the city to collect a $2,000 debt on from a West Haven man on March 30. Police say Rashad Sellers, 26, shot Stephon Walthrust, 26, while Walthrust was waiting for him in his car on Garden Street.

The next homicide happened two months later when police say Alonso Perez-Mateo, 30, discovered Enrique Gutama, 54, having sex with his girlfriend. Perez-Mateo allegedly used an open pair of scissors to kill Gutama, according to police, who charged Perez-Mateo with murder.

More than three months later Leobardo Quintero, 43, was killed on an Alden Street sidewalk. Police say Antonio De La Cruz, 33, pushed Quintero during an alteration, and the older man fell to the ground striking his head and causing a blunt impact injury. Police have an arrest warrant charging De La Cruz with manslaughter.

The final two homicides of the year occurred on the same day, though they were not connected.

On the evening of Sept. 25, Isabella Mehner, 93, was found at the bottom of her basement stairs. Police first suspected her death was the result of a fall. But the medical examiner determined that the injuries that killed her were not consistent with falling and determined she had been bludgeoned to death.

Police later found video showing a man walking onto Mehner’s property and leaving eight minutes later. Two days later police arrested Robert Simmons, 51, and charged him with Mehner’s murder.

Just hours after finding Mehner, police responded to the Southwood Square Apartments on the report of a man being shot multiple times behind Montauk Drive. At about 11 p.m., police found Torrick Johnson, 39, who was rushed to Stamford Hospital, where he died.

Police said Stamford resident Michael James, 53, was caught on video shooting Johnson in cold blood. According to a police affidavit, the video shows James walking up to Johnson and a muzzle flash can be seen. He was charged with murder.

Conklin said that because Stamford has few homicides, two more in a year look like a big increase statistically.

“In some ways we are a victim of our own success. In years past we have had people who have been shot that, doctors tell us, had the bullet been a millimeter to the left or right they would be dead, but Stamford Hospital brought them back from the brink,” he said.

Last year New Haven had 13 homicides and Hartford had 21.

On the bright side, property crimes were down in Stamford, with decreases across the board.

Property crimes went from 2,120 in 2018 to 1,803 in 2019, a 15 percent decrease. Burglaries dropped from 228 to 196, a 14 percent decrease. Larceny and thefts fell from 1,655 to 1,446, a 13 percent decrease. Motor vehicle thefts dropped 30 percent from 237 to 161.

Property crimes Sgt. Sean Scanlan said he was not sure why those statistics fell.

“I don’t know. It goes in waves. Some years it is higher some years lower. We react when we see trends in certain places, and put extra patrols out on the road,” Scanlan said. “I think crime overall was down last year. We are defiantly seeing an uptick since Covid hit. Crime was down for a long time. I’m not sure what to attribute that to.”

Arson was also down, from five in 2018 to 1 in 2019.

Chief Fire Marshall Walter Seely said that he is proud of the low number of fires in general in Stamford. He said the number is very low for a city of this size.


jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com


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