After a violent weekend in Rockford, a look at the city’s crime stats

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD — Rockford’s 11th and 12th homicides are now in the books, as two 25-year-old men were slain during a violent weekend of gunfire.

No arrests have been made in the deaths of Tyrell Dorsey and Marlon Pendleton, both of whom were gunned down Saturday, Aug. 26. Pendleton was shot around 6 p.m., in the 300 block of Underwood Street and died at a local hospital.

Dorsey was shot in the 300 block of Royal Avenue three hours later and was pronounced dead at the scene. A second victim shot on Royal Avenue and another wounded on Jefferson Street were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

“This weekend was really disappointing,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said. “There is no excuse for the senseless tragedies and loss of life we saw.”

McNamara said the violence marks a call for Rockford residents to step up and provide information to bring the shooters to justice. Police echoed the mayor. Officials also said that while no arrests have made, key information was revealed during the initial investigation.

“Based on the information available at this time, it is believed that all three incidents are related,” Rockford Police  Lt. Kurt A. Whisenand said. “The shootings are believed to be targeted and not random acts of violence.”

With approximately two killings per month, Rockford is on pace to nearly match last year’s 27 homicides, the most since 1996 when there were 31.

According to data compiled by the City of Rockford, violent crime—including murder, manslaughter, sex crimes, aggravated assault and robbery—were slightly down as of July 1. In 2016, there were a total of 1,311 violent crimes. Through June 30, 2017, Rockford saw a total of 1,201, for a reduction of about 8 percent.

Property crimes saw a 15 percent decrease. The city saw 2,791 burglaries, thefts, and motor vehicle thefts in 2016. Through June 30, there have been 2,362 property crimes reported.

There are a number of reported crimes that do not result in immediate arrest. For example, even when shell casings are found at shooting scenes, incidents of aggravated discharge of a firearm do often go unsolved. The Rockford Police Department and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department are also working more than a couple dozen cold homicides, cases city and county investigators work together in solving.

Public safety agencies are also overworked in crimes like arson, where police work jointly with the fire department. Rockford experienced that this summer when a string of fires believed to deliberately set involved multiple investigators from several jurisdictions. The economic impact of those fires alone cost the city hundred of thousands of dollars and three historic buildings, including the Hanley Furniture building, which was being tapped for major redevelopment.

Despite efforts from police to curb crime, Rockford has moved up on the FBI’s Most Dangerous list this year. In 2015,  Rockford was the fifth-most dangerous city with a population of more than 100,000 in the United States. With more than 971 violent crimes per 100,000 people, Rockford is now No. 3, behind Memphis and St. Louis.

Anyone with information about last weekend’s shootings is asked to contact the Rockford Police Investigations Bureau at  779-500-6551 or Crime Stoppers at 815-963-7867. R.

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