- Associated Press - Friday, December 2, 2016

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - An early morning stabbing broke the yearly homicide record in Oklahoma’s second-largest city with four weeks still remaining in 2016, police said Friday.

The homicide was the 72nd of the year in Tulsa, surpassing the previous record set in 2009, when a spike in gang-related crime was to blame for the homicide rate.

Officers took a female suspect into custody early Friday after an apparent dispute turned deadly at an apartment complex on the city’s west side. Police said the 24-year-old suspect told detectives that she acted in self-defense.

Five minutes after the victim in the dispute died, Tulsa logged its 73rd homicide with the death of a man who had been shot on Nov. 19.

Typically, the city of about 400,000 averages 54 to 58 homicides a year. It also touts a 92 percent clearance rate in solving homicides.

Even though guns appear to be a unifying thread in a majority of the homicides - they’ve been involved in about three-fourths of this year’s total - detectives have been unable to find common motives. In many years, officers are able to tie the homicide rate to gang violence or a drug wave.

“In years past, we could actually pinpoint what the rise is due to,” said Sgt. Shane Tuell, a police spokesman. “Every now and then, and this is one of those years, you just can’t put a thumb on what is happening.

“I don’t think you’ll ever talk to any police department across the U.S. that’s happy about breaking a violent crime record.”

Investigators say this year’s homicides have occurred in every geographic area of the city.

Jennifer Rush, executive director of Tulsa Crime Stoppers, said she hopes the homicide tally “will wake up the community” to work more with police by providing details to detectives about suspected criminal activity.

“It’s really going to take an effort from the community because the police are already on it,” said Rush, whose group has received anonymous tips that led to the solving of six murders this year. “It’s going to take the community stepping forward and saying this is not a number we want.”

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