Residents, crime expert examine root cause of high murder numbers in District 5

2018 had 16 reported murders in 22-mile radius

SAN ANTONIO – District 5 on the West Side is rich with culture and home to hard-working families, some of whom have built their own businesses. Unfortunately, the area also claims an unfavorable distinction as being one of the most murderous districts in 2018.

In 2018 alone, the San Antonio Police Department Cracker Tracker Map shows there were 16 reported murders in District 5.

For one District 5 resident, Coque Onetime, hearing about murders in his community comes as no surprise. He said he knows about six or seven people murdered in the area within the last five years.

“Friends, relatives, neighbors ... You get immune to it, like, it’s an everyday thing,” Onetime said. “There are people that are panhandling and stuff, because they don’t got to eat.”

Poverty and lack of opportunity are the driving factors that contribute to violence, said Dr. Milo Colton, an associate professor of criminal justice at St. Mary’s University.

“It puts stress on family relations. Odds are you’re in jobs that have no guarantee,” Colton said.

In many cases, people like Matthew Idrogo don’t have jobs at all.

Idrogo is homeless and believes he hasn’t been able to secure a job because of a lack of education. He said he uses drugs to feel better and sells drugs to get by.

“I sell Klimax (a kind of synthetic marijuana) on Zarzamora (Street). I was a big-time dope dealer,” he said. “[We do it] for food, for clothes. We don’t do it to do it, to enjoy seeing people get hurt.”

According to Idrogo, it’s a life that was born out of necessity, one that catapulted him into the criminal justice system and into the cycle of indigence.

“From state prison, I went to county jail, went back to prison. I been (in and) out of prison almost my whole life,” he said.

Creating a better future for the underserved isn’t easy, but according to Colton, this can be done over time, starting with better transportation options and school systems.

“What we need is a unified school district, and that way we can make sure that the monies are distributed more evenly,” he said.

About the Authors: