By Corinne Murdock |
Following the latest two homicides to occur in The Zone, downtown Phoenix’s notorious homeless encampment, city leaders say they plan to convene to take action. There were no further details offered of when or where this meeting will occur; the next policy session, scheduled for April 11, was canceled.
A city spokesperson told AZ Family that these latest violent acts prompted their pending meeting.
“Our urgent priority is helping connect unsheltered individuals around [the] Human Services Campus with safe, indoor housing options and resources to end homelessness,” stated the spokesperson.
The spokesperson also noted that the city added nearly 600 new shelter beds last year, and projected that 800 will be available through this year. There are over 1,000 estimated homeless individuals in The Zone.
The first victim of the latest murders, a man, was discovered around 8 am on Tuesday. Police told Fox 10 Phoenix that they were unable to identify the victim due to the burn injuries. Two men were arrested as suspects in the crime: 18-year-old Isaiah Baskin, and 22-year-old Larry Scott.
Baskin alleged that he played a role in the crime: he allegedly witnessed Scott and another, unidentified individual assault the victim, then assisted them in bagging, transporting, and dumping the victim into a dumpster. Baskin reportedly told police that he could hear the victim moaning inside the dumpster. Then, Baskin admitted that he retrieved a lighter which Scott used to set the victim on fire.
Around 48 hours after the first victim’s death, the second victim of the latest murders, a woman, was shot. Officers responded to a call from a man alleging that someone hit him in the head with a gun before shooting the woman. The woman later died due to her injuries at a hospital. A suspect has yet to be named.
Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari, whose district encompasses The Zone, didn’t issue a public statement on the two murders. However, she did share a New York Times article highlighting the plights of several homeless and business owners in the area.
There were over 700 homeless deaths in the area last year — an uptick of several hundred from 2021.
Per AZ Free News reporting on The Zone, the incessant daily crime has reached levels unmanageable by police. First responders have assessed the area as too dangerous to enter without police escort. Gangs run the streets, making the homeless pay for tent space and assaulting them as punishment.
Not all leadership appeared to be as fazed by the state of The Zone.
Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, hours after the initial murder — a man burned alive in a dumpster — called the area “not great” and suggested that constituents “go buy a sandwich” from a restaurant located within The Zone.
Comparatively, attorney general candidate Abe Hamadeh compared Phoenix to Gotham: the fictional, crime-ridden city of Batman lore.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to email@example.com.