Lexington Police Chief, Mayor reflect on City's record number of homicides

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Posted at 6:06 PM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 18:22:38-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A 51-year-old man is dead after yet another shooting in Lexington.

That brings the total number of homicides this year to 35. That's the highest number ever recorded.

Police say the latest victim of violence, Ramon Pennie, was shot on Hill Street on Monday night and died at UK Hospital.

So far, no one has been arrested for Pennie's death.

"I became quite livid this morning," said Sherry Warsh.

Warsh is working with anti-violence groups around Lexington, a cause close to her heart. Just earlier this year, she says her first cousin's son, Shaquille Newby was murdered in a double homicide that happened July 4.

That shooting marked the 20th and 21st homicide victims dead. Tyler Sandusky was also killed.

"I was praying when we reached 34 Thanksgiving night it would not pass this year. And here we are," said Warsh.

The record number brought together the city's mayor, police chief, and community activist Devine Carama.

"It's not about the numbers for me. Every time we lose somebody, it hits home and it hurts," said Carama.

As Carama says, some violence starts before it gets to the gun.

He has initiated programs through "One Lexington" to inspire community buy-in to try and figure out the roots of the problem.

"You know, this makes all of us sad. That we have one more homicide this year than we did last year. No homicide is good. But we have to be really laser-focused on what's right for Lexington and Lexington's people," said Mayor Linda Gorton.

"One of the ways we can offset that is to get to the root of the problem. Find out what's causing people to make the choices that they make," said LPD Chief Lawrence Weathers.

"Some of the generational issues, that not just them, but their families have dealt with. The cycle of violence and trauma and mental health issues that a lot of these kids are spinning in right now and don't know how to get out," said Carama.

"We gotta get everybody on board though. We have to have everyone here invested," said Mayor Gorton.

Chief Weathers says the level of violent crime is down, which includes robberies and assaults.

But the number of homicides has jumped from 23 in 2018 to 35 this year, with more time to go.

"Some people know something before it happens. And that's what we're trying to get people to do. Reach out, if you don't want to reach out to us, reach out to Devine Carama and some of his outreach programs," said Weathers.

Weathers says the majority of shootings are targeted. That's why despite the rising number of murders, he insists the growing city of Lexington is safe.

"I live in this community. My family lives in this community. And I'm not afraid to go anywhere in this community, and my family's not afraid to go anywhere in this community," said Weathers.

But now, the name of Ramon Pennie joins a growing list of homicide victims whose loved ones are waiting for answers.