Police in Houston reported a 23 percent jump in murders over the last year as the fourth largest U.S. city grappled with 150,000 evacuees from New Orleans and no extra money to cope with the influx.
Police statistics show that 336 people were murdered in Houston in 2005, compared to 273 the previous year.
The city’s murder rate was already increasing before Hurricane Katrina hit on August 29, city officials say, and was worsened by a staffing shortage in the police department.
Police say at least 10 of the deaths have included suspects or victims from New Orleans, a city that had one of the highest U.S. murder rates for years, leading the country in 2002 and 2003.
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New Orleans, which had a murder rate ten times the national average in recent years, was on its way to leading the country in murders again in 2004 before Hurricane Katrina hit.
Meanwhile, the Guardian Angels has been recruiting in Houston and says there is a 95% chance that they will open a local chapter in the city.