Russell Co. residents react to increased number of homicides in 2019

Russell Co. residents react to increased number of homicides in 2019
Russell Co. residents react to increased number of homicides in 2019 (Source: WTVM)

PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WTVM) - Nineteen families in Russell County are feeling the loss this year after a loved one died by homicide.

According to the Russell County coroner, this is at least six more homicides than what the county saw in 2018.

But for those who live in Russell County, these are more than numbers. They’re reminders of the violence in their community.

“I think that’s quite a bit for Phenix City, as small as a city as it is," said Charlotte Chanti, an area resident. "It’s really kind of scary.”

Her neighbor, Barney Herara, agreed.

“I don’t know what this town’s coming to,” he said.

Another man who lives in the area, Cecil Barber, said the area has changed over the past 17 years he’s lived there.

“It’s just the way times are now,” he said.

The most recent homicide was 25-year-old David Oliver who was shot on Sandfort Road in Phenix City Sunday.

Police said Oliver was shot in his car by his girlfriend’s grandfather, 61-year-old Steven Ray Harris, who’s now charged with capital murder.

“Here a young man lost his life," Chanti said. "And the guy that shot him, his life is changed forever as well.”

According to Phenix City police, an argument took place just before the fatal shot. Those in the area said this is a grim reminder that no altercation is worth violence.

“Take time, count to 10 if you’re upset about something," Chanti said. "It gives you time to think, and the outcome won’t be as tragic as what happened [Sunday].”

But with 19 homicides this year, residents are taking extra precautions.

“I got a pistol in my bathroom, a pistol under my bed. I got an alarm system, and eight cameras," Herara said. "That’s how I protect myself.”

Barber said, for him, the key is to always be on guard.

"Really where you are, you need to be aware of your surroundings and aware of what's going on"

These residents said in addition to their own safety, they’re thinking of the families who’ve lost a loved one.

“When you lose someone like that, your life changes," Chanti said. "Life can change in a split second.”

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