AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo Police Chief Martin Birkenfeld updated the people of Amarillo Monday taking questions after several drive-by shootings on Monday and a handful of other shootings rattled the community this week.
During Monday’s live Q and A, Chief Birkenfeld said on a daily, the Amarillo Police Department receives five to 15 shots fired calls, and a vast majority of those being undetermined on the cause or something else other than someone shooting.
“The vast majority of those calls turn out being things we can’t determine the source of. It could be firecrackers, it could be in some cases a motorcycle backfiring or some other loud noise. In some cases, we know that it is people firing guns, such as test-firing weapons, sometimes people are shooting at animals, just different reasons that we are unable to determine. The good news is most of those turn out to be no one injured or property damage done,” said Chief Birkenfeld.
He said when a shots fired call comes in, it takes precedent over every other call.
Chief Birkenfeld said most shootings in the city occur between people who know one another and the five drive-by shootings that occurred on Monday appear to be random acts of violence.
He said the City of Amarillo has seen 21 homicides this year, the highest the city has seen in the past 20 years, with 19 of those being solved.
“We only have two unsolved homicides and one of those being is the shooting that occurred on NW 15th the other night that was probably connected from what we are seeing to these other shootings,” said Chief Birkenfeld.
Amarillo Police identified the victim in Monday’s drive-by shooting in north Amarillo as 62-year-old Laura Etta Ashley. According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, officials with the department previously said Ashley had been shot while driving eastbound on NW 15th Avenue and was dead when officers arrived.
One other person was injured in a drive-by shooting incident Monday night, and three other victims were shot in their cars. Police previously stated that they believe all five shootings on Monday are connected.
He said the Department can connect the five shootings due to witness statements and physical evidence.
“We have to follow the evidence. The evidence is witness statements, the evidence is video that we obtain, the evidence is gunshot fragments or shell casings or bullet fragments, and just all that stuff together is how we make that connection and determine if it is likely connected or not likely connected,” added Chief Birkenfeld.
Chief Birkenfeld said they are working diligently to catch the person or persons responsible.
“We don’t like the idea of somebody out there that has shot innocent people and they are not going to be held accountable for it. So, we are going to do everything we can. We have our detectives on it, our patrol officers are on alert for similar vehicle descriptions for anything that matches up that this,” said Chief Birkenfeld.
The vehicle is described as a dark-colored, four-door Sudan with bright lights and Chief Birkenfeld wanted to let the people of Amarillo know that it is safe to drive at night in Amarillo.
Chief Birkenfeld also pointed out that between seven to 12 guns, if not more, are stolen a month from cars that are unlocked and crimes typically involving guns in the city occur with stolen guns or illegal guns.
Chief Birkenfeld added if you have any more information on these shootings, to call the Amarillo Police Department or stay anonymous through Crime Stoppers.