"I'm not making any excuses. This is unacceptable. I don't blame neighbors for being concerned."
That's mayor Virg Bernero's reaction to yet another murder on Lansing's West side. That brings the yearly toll to three murdered, and another still being investigated. Yet police maintain these don't indicate a downward spiral.
"I just think it happens, in a cyclical fashion. Next month, we might not have any [murders]," says Det. Sgt. Dave Emmons.
Regardless, these violent deaths have the city on its toes. But preventing more tragedies and curbing Lansing's drug trade are complex tasks.
"We're trying to clamp down on that drug activity. I'm not saying we're happy about it at all. We're drawing the line in the sand. We do have a 'get tough' approach," Bernero says.
He says proactive neighbors are a major ingredient in curbing crime, but he knows they alone won't end the violence. The city hopes new traffic barriers in the Genesee neighborhood will help keep the crime away.
Earlier this month, an 18-year-old man was stabbed to death on Lapeer Street, and days later, a 45-year-old man died after a fight on Sycamore Street. But outside that neighborhood, on Larch Street-- and now Butler Boulevard--, two more have been murdered: a 20-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman.
"We're taking all of these incidents seriously," Emmons says.
Emmons adds the crimes aren't random; no drive-by shootings or break-ins. But last week, Genesee neighbors told police the type of the crime doesn't matter; they all feel the same.
"I wish I had a crystal ball to know when the next problem will erupt," Bernero says.
The mayor will meet Monday with the police to discuss this fourth death; with community help, he hopes it'll have been the last.