Story By: Kurt Rivera
STOCKTON, Calif. — In an RV trailer on a vacant lot near Downtown Stockton, Nick Worrell and his wife Christine call this home for now.
“People are losing their jobs. People can’t afford to pay their bills. We can’t get another stimulus check. It’s taking forever,” Worrell said.
No longer in a tent, Worrell is one of the more fortunate ones. However, Stockton’s homeless population has seen six homicides in 2020 contributing to a spike in deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“What we’ve noticed is some of those encampments, sort of left unchecked over a long period of time, may have a tendency for narcotics dealing, prostitution, other types of things to take root there,” Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones told ABC10.
Overall, there have been 50 homicides to date, including one that happened Friday afternoon at a Burger King drive-thru. That compares to 32 at the same time in 2019.
Fifteen of the 2020 homicides are domestic-related. According to Jones, a normal number is one or two domestic murders per year.
“And this is one reason we’re working so strongly and collaboratively with our Family Resource and Family Justice Center, District Attorney’s Office, participating in a domestic violence task force, working with a lot of the non-profits and organizations throughout the city to reduce that type of violence,” Jones added.
Other homicides include nine group or gang-related killings, seven robbery or narcotics-related killings, and 12 classified as other or unknown.
“We really do feel, had we not been doing a lot of this hard work with the collaboration between the Office of Violence Prevention and the police department, who knows what our numbers would be,” Jones said.