This past week, the community has been mourning the loss of an exceptional young woman who recently lost her life while at a local house party early Halloween morning. Graciela Gomez, 22, was celebrating with friends when five men, who had been refused earlier entry into the house, drove past and opened fire on the home.
Ms. Gomez later died of wounds to her abdomen, and her death has since been ruled a homicide. Two other victims sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the same shooting. No arrests have yet been made.
A Well-Loved Member of the Nevada Army National Guard
Ms. Gomez was a well-loved member of the Nevada Army National Guard, serving as a specialist and member of the Las Vegas-based 17th Sustainment Brigade and active in the local COVID-19 Task Force. She is remembered as an “exceptional soldier.” Friends and family recently gathered for a private candlelight vigil in Lewis Family Park to honor and remember her.
A Troubling National and Local Spike in Homicides
Las Vegas and the nation as a whole has witnessed a troubling spike in homicide rates. Homicides were up significantly in 2020 compared to 2019 and trending further upward this year.
As of mid-August, Las Vegas Metro Police had investigated 100 homicides already, representing a 63 percent increase over last year. Two specific factors leading to this spike continue to be domestic violence which has already shown a 31 percent increase over 2020 and incidents surrounding gang activity and drug and alcohol altercations. There has been a 133 percent jump in the number of murders committed over a “perceived disrespect.”
Law Enforcement Tires to Make Sense of the Spikes in Homicides
Some in law enforcement believe that the rise in homicides has multiple causes, including the social and economic stresses from the pandemic and criminal justice reforms, with people feeling less safe than ever before.
Last August, Deputy Chief James LaRochelle, who oversees the investigative services division at Las Vegas Metro Police Department, shared what he saw to be contributing factors to the rising trend of homicides in Las Vegas.
“People’s tempers are shorter when you look at homicide. It is a crime of passion, spur of the moment. We see people being more aggressive.”
He said that 70 percent of the homicides in Las Vegas are firearm-related, with guns getting into the hands of those who should not have them, people who are angry, or who have mental health issues. He also believes that the pandemic has played a part.
These Crimes Statistically Affect Those With Little Access to a Skilled Defense
While little is known about what precipitated the incident that killed Ms. Gomez, we do know that violent crimes statistically affect those who have little access to skilled legal defense.
Anyone who has been charged with a crime in the United States is legally entitled to a lawyer and public trial under the Sixth Amendment. If you have been accused of a homicide in Las Vegas, it is critical to get the guidance of a experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact the criminal defense team at LV Criminal Defense at (702) 623-6362 to schedule a free case evaluation to understand your rights under the law.