RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - The number of homicides on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation nearly doubled in 2016.
Data from the FBI shows there were 17 homicides in 2016, compared with nine in 2015. In addition, authorities have expressed concern because five of the homicides in 2016 involved firearms, while none involved firearms a year earlier.
FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Perry told the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/2l8uMJj ) that an increase in illegal drug use, particularly methamphetamine, is one factor in the spike. He said the drugs on Pine Ridge are not being produced locally but are coming from outside areas, such as Denver.
“When you’re in that drug trade, when there’s money involved, you feel the need to protect your product, to protect yourself, and that’s why I believe there’s more guns involved,” he said.
Perry’s concerns about meth use echo those of local law enforcement officers across the region, including the Rapid City Police Department. Rapid City police Chief Karl Jegeris says meth use has been fueling an increase in violent crime in the city in recent months.
The FBI investigates homicides on Pine Ridge, along with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety and the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Last year’s homicides on the reservation included the shooting death of 13-year-old Te’Ca Clifford as she walked home with friends in July, and Vinnie Brewer III, 29, who was fatally shot outside a community center in daylight in October.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com
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