Gray, Beatty address violence in Lexington

Multiple shootings. Several people hurt. Two people killed. A rash of violence over the past weekend is adding to concerns of an increase in crime in Lexington.

Mayoral candidate Anthany Beatty and current Mayor Jim Gray each called news conferences for Wednesday afternoon to discuss the shootings over the weekend.

On Saturday morning, a teenage girl was shot during a carjacking. Also on Saturday morning, a robbery outside Austin City Saloon left 26-year-old Jonathan Price dead and his wife, Megan, injured. Along Sixth Street early Sunday morning, someone shot and killed 32-year-old Charles Wright. Also early Sunday morning, another man was shot and injured near the intersection of Sixth Street and Shropshire.

"This is certainly concerning to us and we're turning our concern into action," Lexington Police chief Ronnie Bastin said.

Bastin said his officers are working overtime and some people have been redirected to the robbery/homicide unit in response to the shootings. Detectives said they've already seen some results.

"We do have persons of interest identified in some. The community has done an outstanding job in providing is tips," said Lieutenant Brian Maynard.

Gray said he met with leaders from across the city this morning to talk about crime prevention.

"This level of violence is unusual for us. We acknowledge that. It cannot and it will not be tolerated," he said.

Police don't believe any of the shootings are related.

"We want the public to know that we're taking it very seriously and we're not soaring any resources in getting to the bottom of this," Bastin said.

Police also said their CLEAR units, officers who work on building relationships in the community, are focusing their efforts on gathering information as well.

Gray's challenger in the upcoming mayoral election, former police chief Anthany Beatty, also held a news conference today at his campaign headquarters. He says Lexington needs more officers patrolling the streets and neighborhoods. The city has 536 officers, but he says that number should be closer to 700.

"When I see what's happening to Lexington with the crime and gun violence, it's out of control. I would ask the question to you, the citizens of Lexington, do you feel safe?" Beatty said.

A spokesperson for the mayor's office says the city will increase staffing to 570 officers in the next fiscal year.

Police say there have been nine homicides in 2014. That's the same rate at this time last year.


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