For the past five years, Pine Bluff and Jefferson County has averaged almost 20 homicides per year, and as 2011 comes to an end, there have been 19 reported, eight more than a year ago, but 11 fewer than were reported in 2007 when there were 30 in the city and county.

For the past five years, Pine Bluff and Jefferson County has averaged almost 20 homicides per year, and as 2011 comes to an end, there have been 19 reported, eight more than a year ago, but 11 fewer than were reported in 2007 when there were 30 in the city and county.

From 2007 to 2011, a total of 99 homicides were reported in the city and county.

“I can’t put my hand on anything specific but there seems to be a continuing trend for people to pull a gun to solve problems rather than trying to solve them in other ways,” Prosecuting Attorney S. Kyle Hunter said. “More and more of these involve people (both victims and suspects) in their 20s.”

According to reports compiled by The Commercial, 11 of the 19 homicide victims were under 30, including two teenagers (16 and 17), one 20-year-old, three who were 21, two age 23, one age 24, one age 27, and one age 29.

The oldest victim was 78, and of the 19 victims, 18 were black, 15 males and three females. The only white victim was a male.

At least one homicide was reported each month in 2011 with the exception of February, and there were three each in April and August, two each in March and October, November and December.

Nine homicides remain unsolved and under investigation, including the only two that occurred outside the Pine Bluff city limits.

On March 7, deputies found the body of Jeremy Edward Ireland, 34, at an abandoned house on Deep Bayou Road, off Grider Field Ladd Road. He died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Nine days later, (0n March 16), Louis Swanson Jr., 78, was shot while fishing on the south side of the Arkansas River bank under the free bridge.

Sheriff’s deputies have not identified a suspect in either slaying, and anyone with information should contact the department’s Criminal Investigation Division at 541-5496 or the administrative office at 541-5351. A reward is available for information that leads to an arrest.

Of the 17 that occurred in the city, one, the death of 20-year-old Timothy Reed on Jan. 20 was ruled justified by Hunter as police said Reed and then Police Sgt. Kelvin Hadley exchanged gunshots at a house in the Dollarway area.

Nine others resulted in arrests, including:

• April 9 — Kendrell Kirklin, 24. Michael Thomas, 26, charged capital murder.

• April 19 — Kadedra Washington, 16. Kenneth Ray Burton, 19, charged with manslaughter.

• June 26 — Vanessa Bearden, 21. Olivia Moody, 20, charged first degree murder.

• July 27 — Brian K. Smith, 21. Tony Ray Boykins Jr., 27, charged first-degree murder.

• Aug. 13 — Re’Shelle Smith, 23. Kendrick Hampton, 24, charged capital murder.

• Sept. 11 — Briand Harris, 31. Alonzo Norman, charged capital murder and other charges.

• Oct. 25 — Paul Fells Jr., 23. Xavier Thomas, 21, arrested first-degree murder and other charges.

• Nov. 13 — Walter Ashley Jr, 39. Trammell Moore, 18, and Joshua Moore, 22, arrested capital murder and other charges.

• Dec. 16 — Kenneth Davis, 46. Courtney Lewis, 23, arrested capital murder and other charges.

The remaining seven in the city limits are still under investigation. They include:

• April 3 — Kenneth Goodwin, 39.

• May 27 — James Moten Jr., 30.

• Aug. 4 — Jason Taggart, 29.

• Aug. 6 — Marcus McAfee, 17.

•Oct. 28 — Willie B. Young, 53.

• Nov. 9 — Marcus Smith, 21.

• Dec. 3 — Michael Laron King, 27.

Anyone with information about any of these homicides should contact the police Detective Division at 730-2090 and a reward is available for information that leads to an arrest.

“From a prosecutor’s and a police point of view, homicides are one of those types of crimes that are hard to reduce with just an additional police presence because most of them happen when there is no one else present and some of them are spur of the moment events,” Hunter said. “They’re frequently committed by people who have no respect for life, either of their victim, the people around them, or the lives of their own families.”