Lower murder rate in 2017 means nothing to grieving mother

SAPD chief expected to release official numbers Wednesday

SAN ANTONIO – Police Chief William McManus will release the department’s official 2017 crime report Wednesday, according to a spokesman.

It’s expected that the report will show the city had 126 murders last year, down from the 149 homicides in 2016. The latest figure, however, is above the 94 murders committed in 2015.

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Still, the murder rate means nothing to Melanie Santos, a mother grieving the loss of her 3-year-old son, Rene Blancas.

“No, that doesn’t mean anything. That doesn’t mean anything,” Santos said.

Her son was more than a statistic. “He was a typical boy,” she said.

The child was killed by a single gunshot to the back of his head while he was in the back seat of his parent’s car, stopped at a stop sign.

Santos said a stranger in a vehicle made a U-turn and pulled up behind them, and then the shot rang out.

“He loved Spiderman. He wanted to be Spiderman,” Santos said. “He loved chickens. He loved picking up the eggs. He liked feeding them.”

Now, in the family’s living room, her son’s ashes rest in an engraved box surrounded by small acorns and other items he loved.

Soon after her son died, Santos said, she contacted the local chapter of Parents of Murdered Children and Other Survivors of Homicide for support. Eric Trevino, 22, who was arrested last money, denies he was responsible for her son’s death.

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“A child is supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around,” said Jimmy Robles, pastor of Last Chance Ministries.

But he said now it seems to be the other way around.

“We’re seeing more children, more children, more children,” Robles said. He should know. Robles has officiated at many of their funerals.

Robles said he blames a growing disrespect for life.

“People take it out on the wrong people. They take it out on innocent people. It all has to do with hate and anger,” Blancas’ mother said.

She said as much as she wants to see the violence end, “It’s never going to go away.”

Still, Robles said, his ministry won’t give up on trying to stop the violence by offering young people better opportunities.

“Put the guns down and change their minds,” Robles said. “Let’s start a new year, a fresh year, new beginnings.”

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