A one-year-old boy was shot dead inside his home early Sunday in Dallas as police there combat a surge in citywide homicides. The child, Rory Norman, was asleep with his family around 3:30 a.m. when a gunman opened fire into the home from the outside, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said at a press conference Sunday.
“Not only are we broken-hearted, we are angry this one-year-old baby was killed due to senseless gun violence in this city that we are determined and aggressive about eradicating in 2020,” Hall said.
Hall appeared incensed as she spoke about the child’s killing, and used an expletive as she gave an impassioned call for an end to the violence. “This happened on my watch, and I am angry,” Hall said. “And this sh** has to stop in this city.” Also shot was the child’s 20-year-old uncle, who was visiting from a local university. The man was shot multiple times and taken to a local hospital, where he is in stable condition, Hall said.
The shooter’s identity remains unknown, but Hall said the crime was intentional and the location was targeted. The suspect was likely familiar with the layout of the home, Hall said, because the shooter fired into the bedrooms at a downward angle at a time when residents inside would likely be asleep.
The boy’s killing came days after the department released the draft of a plan, developed at the request of mayor Eric Johnson, to combat increased violence in the city. In 2019, Dallas saw 209 homicides, up 27% from the year prior, according to police.
The Dallas Morning News reported that the homicide tally is the highest the city of 1.3 million has seen since 2007. The killings reportedly include 10 considered by police to be justifiable.
Neighbors who spoke to the Dallas Morning News were stunned by the killing of the boy, who was often seen playing in the yard.
“It ain’t ever happened around here, a shooting of a kid,” next-door neighbor Terry Lockridge told the paper. “A baby like that, a toddler. It ain’t ever happened around here. So it’s like a shock. It’s a surprise to me because I’ve been around here a long time, and I never heard of a baby getting killed.”
Hall’s plan to decrease crime, expected to be presented to the city council’s public safety committee sometime in January, aims to use data-driven policing to reduce murders and aggravated assaults by 10% in the Southeast, Southwest and South Central patrol divisions, and reduce violent crime overall across the city by five percent. The plan calls for the development of an intelligence-led police division to “forecast trends, identify patterns, and facilitate a more accurate picture of who is committing crime and where.”
But some critics argue the crime reduction goals it outlines aren’t ambitious enough, the paper reports, and said more information is needed about how the department intends to use surveillance and intelligence-gathering methods to collect data.
Johnson, who called the violence “patently unacceptable” in a December letter, said he wants to see violent crime rates return to historic lows from 2013 and 2014, reports the Dallas Morning News. Homicides in the city dropped to 116 in 2013, according to police data.
“It is my expectation that our city staff and our police department will work more aggressively and more transparently toward making Dallas safer,” Johnson wrote.
Of the nation’s ten largest cities, Philadelphia and New York also saw increases in homicides last year. Philadelphia, which saw a 12-year high in murders in 2018 with 353 people slain, saw another violent year in 2019 with 356 homicides, according to police. New York City saw a 7.8% increase in murders from 2018 to 2019, but the city has recorded historically low crime rates in recent years and crime was down overall across the city, according to the NYPD.