9 murders so far — Deputy police chief: No pattern with this year’s homicides

Published 6:00 am Sunday, July 1, 2018

The city of Port Arthur has seen nine homicides in the first six months of the year, but this doesn’t necessarily mean there is a trend going on.

Port Arthur Police Deputy Chief Martin “Bubba” Blitch said there is no pattern when looking at this year’s’ homicides.

“There is no pattern,” Blitch reiterated. “We hope we don’t have another but if it happens we will do everything to get justice. I pray we don’t have another one. If we do, that’s another life lost, another family affected and the community affected.

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Sometimes witnesses do not come forward during a violent crime, and this is for different reasons.

“Some fear retaliation,” Blitch said. “We do everything we can to keep everything private — obviously there is some disclosure with attorneys — but some people are reluctant for fear of retaliation. They know family members and don’t want to compromise relationships with people they know.”

Bridge of trust

Police do what they can to alleviate the fears of the community. Patrol officers have that chance at one-on-one interaction. They talk to business owners, clerks and the general public. “We reassure them that we are here. We can’t be everywhere at one time and I wish we could,” he said. “There are bad things that happen in a split second and an officer may be a block away, but he or she is still a block away. We are here and would like to better the relationship with the community, and, therefore, by bettering the relationship, hopefully they (community) will be comfortable that if they hear that something is going to happen, they’ll call us and let us know. They may not be sure it’s going to happen but that’s OK.”

But if the threat were real, then that is a life saved, he said.

Blitch encourages the men and women who work with him to get out and help built that bridge, a bridge of trust.

The nine homicides include:

• Jan. 7 — John Sinegal, 45, of Port Arthur, was shot to death at Port Arthur Inn.

His friend, Jeremy Bell was arrested for the crime and indicted on Jan. 31.

The friends were in a room at the motel when Bell’s .410 revolver discharged and Sinegal was shot in the chest, court documents said.

• Jan. 25 — Jose Pompas Leal, 27, was shot while driving, lost consciousness and crashed into other vehicles at a busy intersection at 39th Street and Memorial Boulevard. Two suspects were identified and arrested: James Joseph Levron, who was indicted Feb. 21 and David Broadus, who was indicted on Feb. 7.

• Jan. 25 — Kevin Tran, 24, was fatally shot on a porch in the 1300 block of Trinity Avenue. Also shot was Sheldon Polk.

No arrests have been made and the case remains under investigation.

• Jan. 26 — Jonah Rivera of Sabine Pass was killed after he was shot in the mouth at a private residence. Several masked men had gone to the house late that night looking for someone.

Raul Aguilar Trejo was later arrested for the homicide and indicted on March 7.

• Jan. 26 — Ervin Michael Jefferson, 37, was stabbed to death in the 600 block of Sixth Street after a dispute with Shanga Hudson turned physical. The grand jury took no action on the case on Feb. 28.

• March 5 — Kevonn Jeffery Washington, 18, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds behind an apartment unit at Lakeside Palms, 5200 Gulfway Drive.

No arrests have been made and the case remains under investigation.

• March 16 — Joseph Boudreaux, 25, was shot to death at Avery Trace Apartment complex and later died at Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont.

Walter Stevens Jones was arrested for the crime and indicted on March 28.

• June 13 — The badly decomposed body of Kristen Balismo was found on a remote road on Texas 82 on Pleasure Island. Preliminary autopsy reports show she died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Police continue to follow leads in the case, details are scarce and no arrests have been made.

• June 25 — Devondre Benjamin, 19, was shot to death at Park Central Apartments, 8580 Park Central Blvd.

A suspect was taken into custody at the scene and is a 24-year-old Port Arthur man. He was being charged with murder.

Police have not released the suspect’s name.