Our Views: Outsiders part of theme in homicides
A common thread in Janesville's two homicides this year is suspects who aren't from Janesville.
The primary suspect in homicide No. 2, reported to police Saturday, is Julian D. Collazo from Texas, while a second suspect is from Beloit. Police still are trying to figure out what brought Collazo here, though he reportedly had permission to be in the victim's home on South River Street. The victim, Christine Scaccia-Lubeck, was stabbed more than 30 times, policy say.
The suspect in homicide No. 1, Barquis D. McKnight, is from Beloit, while the victim, Eddie Lee Jones, was from Illinois. McKnight's attorney is arguing McKnight acted in self-defense, but Jones' death in May would mark the first homicide in Janesville in three years if McKnight is found guilty.
Police Chief Dave Moore has said there's no single cause behind this year's uptick in deadly violence, but the community should take note of Collazo's alleged gang ties. Police had been watching Collazo, though they had no reason to arrest him before Saturday's incident.
“We identified him in October,” Moore said at a news conference Monday. “We had concerns about him, particularly with his gang affiliation out of Texas.”
Another commonality between the two, otherwise unrelated homicides is that police quickly arrested the suspects shortly after launching investigations.
Authorities apprehended Collazo and McKnight within hours of the crimes they're accused of committing.
Taken into custody in Missouri, Collazo made the police's job easier by driving a car outfitted with OnStar, a GPS navigation system, and Collazo was wearing shoes with blood on them, police said.
Regardless of the help received from suspects, police have demonstrated that Janesville isn't a friendly place for criminals to do business. While it's unfortunate the city has recorded two homicides in one year after three years of none, Janesville's relative lack of violent crime allows police to devote a lot of resources to serious incidents.
Janesville residents should rest easy knowing the homicides weren't random acts. The victims and suspects knew each other. It's also worth noting the two homicides occurred within only blocks from each other, meaning the violence is happening within a relatively concentrated area.
It's also a good sign that, at least in the Collazo case, police already were aware of his presence in Janesville. If officers know about potential troublemakers, they can act proactively and sometimes take steps to address a problem before it results in violence, though the police obviously cannot prevent every crime.
For Janesville, 2017 has been a step forward in many ways. A surging economy and downtown area give the community much to celebrate. But every community experiences a few setbacks, and certainly this year's homicides and other shooting incidents don't help the city's image. At the same time, law enforcement is working aggressively to ensure these cases are quickly resolved.