LRPD: Hispanic Men Target of Robberies

(KATV) Little Rock police have been working more crimes targeting Hispanic men in recent years. This past weekend alone there were four robberies in Southwest Little Rock, all the victims were injured, one Hispanic man was shot and killed after he handed over the money.

Help us help you, that was the reason law enforcement and leaders in the community gathered Wednesday (including officers, pastors, Stop the Violence, former felons, attorneys and the Mexican Consul). They want victim's to speak up without fear so the assailants can be put behind bars.

With a hand shake, Benny Johnson with Stop the Violence told Alex Macias with the Mexican Consulates office, "We want to have this partnership to help reduce the crimes against Hispanics."

In Southwest Little Rock, where there is a growing Spanish speaking, Hispanic/Latino community, it can be challenging to reach out to them. It is often a tight-knit, tight lipped group.

Captain Terry Hastings with the Little Rock Police Department says there are several unsolved cases of suspects targeting Hispanics. "It seems if we have one, these individuals may be responsible for several. Over the weekend they robbed several people."

Deputy prosecutor John Hout says he has worked many cases with Hispanic victims who were targeted. In 2009 Brandon Johnson was arrested in connection with 12 robberies and 3 murders, his letters from jail detailed the crimes. Hout says, "So clearly there are groups of people who are being targeted as victims because of their background."

Folks here agree, there are several reason Latino men are vulnerable. They often carry cash because of tips or they don't have bank accounts. Usually walk between work and home, and immigrants are less likely to call police for help because of the language barrier or they're undocumented. But Alex Macias with the Mexican Consulate's office says they will drive people to the police station and translate. "We will be very happy to assist any person with the language barrier."

Police say it is a misconception that undocumented victims will be deported. Local officers do not have that federal authority.

Captain Hastings says it is likely career criminals targeting Hispanics, not gang activity.

Church pastors are planning a faith based prayer vigil at noon on the steps of Little Rock City Hall on Thanksgiving Day.

Related Channel Seven Story: Police Learn Spanish as Latino Population Grows