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Recent homicides push Sioux City above annual average

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SIOUX CITY -- Sioux City police are awaiting a medical examiner's report on a body found Tuesday before officially classifying it as a homicide.

Even if it's not, the city has surpassed its annual average of homicides in 2020, a year in which other violent crimes are either up slightly or trending downward.

Prior to Tuesday's discovery of the body, whose identity has yet to be released, in an apartment at 2601 Douglas St., the city had four homicides, five if the latest case is added to that list. Sioux City averages two homicides per year. The city had three in 2019 and seven in 2018, the highest total in 17 years.

Two of the homicides have occurred since Nov. 1. Police believe the person whose body was found died in November.

All five cases appear to be random events, Sioux City community policing Sgt. Jeremy McClure said.

Jeremy McClure

McClure

"Looking at the circumstances, it seems to be coincidental," McClure said. "Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason to why they happen or when they happen."

Police said Tuesday that the deceased person may have been dead inside a unit at Park Place Apartments for a week, and signs of blunt-force trauma were observed. The apartment appeared to have been used by transients as a flop house, police said.

Park Place Apartments also was the scene of a Nov. 1 shooting in which Solomon Blackbird, 33, was found injured. He later died at a local hospital. Police have issued an arrest warrant for Roderick Banks, 36, of Sioux City, who is wanted for first-degree murder. McClure said police believe Banks has left the area.

Police do not believe that Blackbird's death was related to the recently found body, McClure said.

Brian Henderson, 27, of Sioux City, died late last month after being shot Nov. 1 at 414 W. Seventh St. No arrests have been made. McClure said police have identified some people of interest.

Salahadin Adem, 37, was fatally stabbed and a woman injured on Sept. 11 in an apartment at 2103 Nebraska St. Michael Landrum, 54, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder in the case.

Lisa Belk, 55, was fatally stabbed April 14 during a family gathering at 3811 Peters Ave. Her son, Paul Belk, 31, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and other charges.

As people have been forced to spend more time at home or in close quarters with others during the coronavirus pandemic, police have not seen large increases in other assaults or disturbances that some thought might occur. Some of those crimes have increased, but they're in line with normal year-to-year variances.

"We haven't seen a dramatic increase in violent crime," McClure said.

There are a couple notable increases. Attempted murders have risen from two through Dec. 2 in 2019 to 12 this year. Terrorism cases, acts involving gunshots fired at houses or vehicles, also have risen from one a year ago to 14 in 2020. McClure said police speculate that many of the terrorism acts are retaliatory and remain under investigation.

Misdemeanor domestic abuse assaults have risen slightly from 389 to 409.

"A slight increase overall is about what we would expect to see in fluctuations in a normal year," he said.

Simple and aggravated assaults are up only slightly, 652 to 666.

A sign of the increased amount of time people have spent at home during the pandemic is found in a big drop in home burglaries, McClure said. Burglaries from residences have dropped from 314 in 2019 to 256 this year. Burglaries from garages or sheds also have declined from 110 to 49.

Sioux City police investigating homicide after body found in home
Sioux City shooting victim dies
Sioux City police seeking suspect in early November homicide
Sioux City man pleads not guilty to fatal stabbing
Sioux City murder case suspended for mental health exam
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