2017 Homicide Count: Yakima police say they can't prevent murders
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. - In 2017, 19 people were murdered throughout the county, just one less than 2016.
Out of those 19 homicides, 12 happened in the city of Yakima.
The Yakima Police Department said 75 percent remain unsolved.
Police Captain Jeff Schneider said they have solved three and made arrests in two of the cases, but the rest remain open.
"We have leads and information on several of them," he said. "Some of those cases we have a very clear understanding of who did it but we just lack the evidence to charge so far."
Out of the other seven homicides, the Sheriff's Office is investigating five and two are being investigated by the FBI because the victims were tribal members.
Law Enforcement Specialist Casey Schilperoort said the Sheriff's Office takes over investigations if the city doesn't have a police department or if a city asks for their help.
"We would investigate anything outside city limits of a city," Schilperoort said. "We investigate everything that's in the county, country areas and then if there's a city that has a homicide and they can't handle it then they would usually ask us to take care of it."
Schilperoort said the county made two arrests out of the five they investigated and have named a suspect in another but have not found that person yet. He said in the remaining two cases, they have no suspects.
Captain Schneider said the city is working to solve these cases but claims there is nothing the police can do to stop more murders.
"There's really nothing the police department can do to prevent murders because one they're so rare and typically they're spur of the moment type things," Schneider said. "They really can't be prevented."
The Sheriff's Office said they have not counted the recent officer-involved shootings that they investigated in the final homicide count. They said those are considered justifiable homicides but they need an official prosecutor ruling and they are waiting on that.