AUSTIN, Texas — Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in America but, unfortunately, crime is growing with it.
As of Sunday, the city has had 60 homicides in 2021, more than any other year on record, but these murders are more than numbers.
"It just hurt every single one of us," said Sean Lavery. "The toll it took is just immense right now."
Lavery and Dylan Talvert are reeling from the murder of their close friend, 27-year-old Cornelia Moore. She was shot and killed in a road-rage incident on Interstate 35 on Sept. 4.
"She just was one of those types of people that would literally give you her shirt off her back," said Talvert.
Moore, Lavery and Talvert were members of the same car club.
"She was just very outgoing, very caring," said Lavery. "She enjoyed being around the car community and just took everyone in with open arms."
Gun violence is up in Austin, according to APD Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon. He said in many of the recent murders, the people involved don't know each other.
"We have got to find a way to start getting guns that are illegally owned off the street," said Chacon. "That's why I started the violence and intervention program almost five months ago now, which has continued to see success in seizing illegally owned firearms and making sure that we're holding those that are using them to commit violent crimes accountable."
Chacon said the police staffing issues have a hand in this as well.
"The number one deterrent for crime is officer presence, and with the fewer number of officers that I have right now on patrol that really are many times running from call to call and do not have an opportunity for proactive police work, has decreased that officer presence," said Chacon.
As the department searches for a solution, Moore's friends and family are planning her funeral.
"I'm still texting my little sister, hoping I'm going to get a message back," said Lavery. "It's unreal to me that I'm never going to be able to see her or talk to her again and it sucks."
Chacon said the APD solved 49 of the 60 homicides this year.
Moore's friends are pleading for people to think hard about the effects of taking a life before pulling the trigger.
Moore's funeral is set for Saturday, Sept. 18.
The family is accepting donations to help with funeral costs.
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