Leading SA: SAPD Chief McManus talks uptick in violent gun crime; reasons, response, what comes next

SAN ANTONIO – In the last three weeks alone, our community had a vehicle shot up by an AK-47 in Castle Hills, a family barbecue targeted in a drive-by shooting that ended with seven people wounded, and four people shot outside a bar on the North Side.

San Antonio Chief of Police William McManus joined Leading SA to talk about the recent rise in crime, why it is happening and what comes next.

“We’re seeing an increase in violent gun crime for sure. And like in so many cases, a lot of the gun violence is due to risky behavior, I’ll call it,” McManus said.

The chief said that the police department is just one part of the criminal justice system, and right now he is concerned.

“To be very candid about it, I’m concerned that there are several things that lead to the violence, lead to the repeat offenders being out on the street. And I think that low bail, no bail, is a problem. You have people who are being arrested for a variety of crimes. Violent crimes are included who are being put back on the street. No pretrial detention witnesses won’t talk because they’re out there and they’re afraid that of retaliation,” McManus said.

He said that this is an issue with real life repercussions.

“I think there’s a lack of fear of consequence, and I’m concerned about it. I think that I think that this movement to keep people out of jail is a problem,” McManus said. “People that we’ve arrested over the past few years, we’ve arrested before and many of them again for the same crimes. So this is an issue for me. It’s an issue for the police department. And, you know, I’m not quite sure how we get a handle on it without all the facets of all the other parts of the criminal justice system working in sync.”

SAPD is now even working with criminologists.

“We’re working with criminologists from UTSA on a violence prevention plan, and we restarted that several weeks ago. We’ve been meeting with them on a regular basis. They’re there scouring the data, crime data, and we’re actually scheduled to meet with them again, I believe it’s right after the Fourth (of July). They’ll have at least a blueprint of that plan moving forward. We expect to have that in place probably sometime toward the end of the summer and into the fall,” McManus said.

So what is the message to families in the community?

“I’d say the majority of the violent crimes are, they’re not random. They are happening because of people who engage in risky behavior. Again, there’s exceptions to this, but this is what we’re seeing. Your chance of becoming the victim of a violent crime are slim. And again, there’s exceptions to this, but that’s the rule,” McManus said.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.