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Even after spike in June, homicide numbers low for 2010

On the night of May 11, Kenneth Michael Turner kicked in the door of his estranged girlfriend's apartment.

Two little girls watched as Turner brutally executed Tiffany Husley, 24, and Deanna Griffin, 36, before turning the .40 caliber handgun on himself.

"I think when (Turner) showed up, he just went straight in," Suwanee police spokesman Capt. Clyde Byers said at the time. "There wasn't any arguing or anything."

The double homicide committed by the 40-year-old Lawrenceville resident was the first of its kind in Suwanee in 45 years. If not for a stabbing in a Wal-Mart parking lot in February, it would have been the first murder of any kind since 1965.

The deaths of those two women were the only two Gwinnett slayings in May, which continued the trend of a below-average 2010.

According to information compiled by the county medical examiner's office, 11 homicides occurred within county lines through the first five months of 2010 -- compare that to 19 and 18 during the same span of the previous two years, respectively.

But a bloody incident in Suwanee begat a bloodier June countywide.

"The stars were aligned right," Gwinnett County police spokesman Cpl. Brian Kelly said of June. "Things came to a head in several different areas."

* On June 4, two men were shot during a drug deal gone bad at a Lawrenceville apartment complex on Club Drive.

Duluth resident Felipe Reynoso Brito, 39, would not recover from his injuries.

A week later, temperatures took a dramatic jump -- after previous weeks showed highs in the mid-80s, that Friday would post one approaching 92 degrees.

The following five days resulted in five eventual homicides.

* June 11: Maintenance crews at a Duluth apartment complex discovered the body of 19-year-old Deonte Moore in a wooded area near the complex office.

Believed to have been drug-related, police later apprehended one of two supposed suspects.

* June 15: An early-morning traveler found two bodies in a Buford ditch, believed to have been murdered near or at the scene on Old Suwanee Road.

* June 16: Forty-nine-year-old Michael Peters was found in front of his Lilburn apartment building, lying on the ground "soaked in blood," blunt force trauma to his head and burns across his head and shoulders.

He died two weeks later.

* June 16: An apparent drug-related robbery turned bad, as five suspects attempted to flee from a Snellville home on Spring Mesa Drive.

With shots fired as they sped away, 17-year-old Devonte Bowles was shot in the head. He died a week later.

"(That week's happenings) are purely coincidental," Kelly said. "It's impossible to predict. We've seen weeks where we experience a high amount of violent activity, and then weeks where we don't."

"There seems to be no rhyme or reason."

June's six homicides mark just the second month with that many in Gwinnett since the start of 2008 -- but, in relation to recent years, the first half of 2010 has been comparatively quiet.

The total of 17 was the lowest through six months of any year since 2006.

The string of murders in June came alongside an unprecedented heat wave, in accord with the long-debated "heat madness" theory that higher temperatures lead to higher violent crime rates.

But, of course, temperatures have remained sweltering, and there has not been a homicide recorded in Gwinnett County in almost a month.

"I think by and large across the country, homicide detectives and police departments recognize that in the summertime, there seems to be a slight increase in violence," Kelly said.

"But that's not an absolute rule."

Some arrests have been made in the June murders, Kelly said, but are being "kept under our hats" because of other, related suspects believed to still be on the lam.

Regardless, 2010 has seen a below average homicide rate thus far.

Said Kelly: "We're not experiencing anything out of the norm this year."