LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Little Rock matched its homicide total from all of last year Monday when the body of a man was found near an interstate highway hours after shots were reported nearby.
The city's 42nd homicide victim of 2017 was a man who was found face down about 10 feet off a frontage road near Interstate 30. Police spokesman Lt. Steve McClanahan said a passer-by called to report seeing a body about three blocks away from where shots had been reported overnight.
"He's far enough off the roadway that I guarantee you hundreds of vehicles drove past him this morning before this person saw him. No doubt," McClanahan said. A handful of businesses are located along the frontage road, and traffic volume was higher than usual Monday because most schools reopened.
"It could be a robbery," McClanahan said. "I don't think it's a homeless person based on how he's dressed" — in jeans, a shirt and shoes. He said the area in which the body was found isn't known for gang activity.
According to a police statement, 28-year-old Antwon Bryant of Little Rock had been shot multiple times, and an autopsy was ordered.
The death, plus two others since Saturday night, puts Little Rock on a pace to approach an annual total not seen since the city's gang wars of the early 1990s. Justice Department figures show 68 deaths in 1993 attributed to murder or manslaughter. McClanahan said other killings, such as justifiable homicide, pushed the total to 78 that year.
Mayor Mark Stodola, who was the local prosecutor during the height of Little Rock's gang wars, said the prevalence of drugs plus people wanting to take the law into their own hands was driving a general crime rate increase. The gang wars in 1993 were largely about territory.
"We went the month of June without a homicide, and now we've equaled what we had last year and we have 4½ months left in the year," Stodola said. "I'm hoping and praying that these people who are using violence to settle their differences will come to their senses."
He said the city is offering $10,000 rewards for information leading to a homicide conviction.
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