The Pensacola Police Department reports a homicide investigation is in progress after a man’s body was found Tuesday morning on the ground behind a local business. A woman called police after finding the man’s body around 7:45 a.m. behind a business in the 6800 block of North Ninth Avenue. The victim has been identified as Wes Burkhalter, 47, no permanent address. An autopsy confirmed Burkhalter did not die from natural causes.
The homicide is the fifth since June 30 and the seventh for the year.
The other four for the period – July-September are:
Carolyn Barnes, 75, was found murdered in her home in the 5300 block of Flintwood Circle.
Denzel Dywan Williams, 15, of 715 North H St., Pensacola, charged with second-degree murder. His brother – Malik Kewsie Williams, 19, of the same address – died after he was stabbed twice.
Alonzo Thompkins, 26, of 500 E. Fairfield Dr., indicted for first-degree felony murder in the death of toddler Cornelius Savage.
Mark E. Freeman, 34, of the 200 block of East Bobe Street – died at corner of East Avery and North Tarragona streets from gunshot wounds.
Crime statistics are more a snapshot of what’s happening in the community than the effectiveness of law enforcement. In August 2016, PPD proudly released its crime stats for the first six months that showed only two murders for the period.
Mayor Ashton Hayward said at the time, “When you contrast these statistics to what we used to know in this city, it’s an extraordinary testament to the consistency of the progress that the Pensacola Police Department has made. I am extremely proud of the comprehensive efforts between the PPD and our community partners to continue to drive crime downward.”
Those statistics have taken a turn for the worse since that press release.
The 2016 homicide rate is on pace to be the highest since 1993, when the city had 10 murders. The ten-month total for 2016 has already tied the 2012 total that earned the city the moniker as one of the most dangerous small cities in the nation.