Warren police: Drugs played role in 2017 homicide spike
By Ed Runyan
Though the 2017 Warren Police Department annual report overall showed modest changes in crime statistics compared with recent years, one area stood out: homicides.
The department recorded 12 homicides in 2017, triple the number from 2016 and 2015, which saw four each.
Capt. Rob Massucci, the department’s chief of detectives, said 2017 was strange in that “we were really low [in homicides] until a point [in July] where all hell broke loose.”
On July 8, Arteum Brodeur, 24, stabbed to death Michael Krevas, 31, along North Park Avenue just north of Courthouse Square.
Prosecutors said Krevas came after the Russian-born Brodeur over a woman and Brodeur responded with a knife.
When Brodeur was sentenced recently to eight years in prison, Krevas’ mother blamed drugs for her son’s death. Prosecutors agreed, saying Krevas had methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in his system.
Two days after the Krevas killing, Tyler Mitchell, 18, of Orchard Avenue Southeast, was found shot to death at 5:30 a.m. July 10 in the front yard of a home in the 2700 block of Burton Street Southeast.
On July 24, the body of Michael C. Walker, 31, was found in his burned out minivan on Pershing Avenue Southwest. It was ruled an accidental drug overdose, though the circumstances suggested homicide, and sources told detectives Walker may have been a target for drug-related issues.
Massucci said through the rest of 2017, investigators repeatedly heard the homicide victim had been targeted for ripping off a drug dealer.
“Probably more than half were like that,” Massucci said of the 12 homicides. “There’s not many situations where drugs were not involved,” Massucci said. “In the drug world, if you rip someone off, [the consequence is] usually an assault.”
Trumbull County overdose-death stats from late 2017 suggest that drug abuse was out of control during that time.
There were an average of 11.5 overdose deaths per month in the county in 2017 and a total of 135 for the year, a record number. But the worst month for overdose deaths was September, when there were 24. September 2017 also was the worst month of 2017 for drug overdoses – both survived and fatal – according to the county’s General Health District.
The number of homicides so far in 2018 is similar to the number at this point in 2017 – three so far this year, two at this point in 2017. But overdose deaths this year are lower than in 2017. There were five per month the first two months of this year, but the average was 9.2 per month the first five months of 2017.
Massucci said he’s guessing the reason for fewer overdose deaths is the availability of the opiate-reversal drug naloxone in people’s homes.
He also thinks addicts have finally gotten the message about the danger of dying from using heroin and fentanyl.
The annual report indicates the police department has done its part to revive overdose victims with officers’ administering of naloxone, which they started carrying in their cruisers in 2015. Officers administered it 20 times on overdose victims in 2015, 94 times in 2016 and 165 times last year.