HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - We're only in the first month of 2019 and there have already been 2 murders in Madison County. Last Wednesday, police say a customer shot and killed an employee at the IHOP on South Memorial Parkway in Huntsville. Authorities say another employee then shot the customer killing him.
Police are calling that an act of self-defense.
The second fatal shooting happened on Saturday. A man was shot and killed in Harvest, which is the Madison County Sheriff's Office jurisdiction. Law enforcement officials have already identified who they believe are responsible for these killings.
It's their goal to be able to quickly do this for every crime that occurs in their area. But that's not always the case. Even though it's 2019, some cases from 2018 still remained unsolved.
Madison County is made up of three law enforcement jurisdictions, the Madison County Sheriff's Office, the Huntsville Police Department, and the Madison Police Department. In the entire county, which includes all three agencies, there were 35 murders last year and arrests were not made in all those cases.
In 2018, no murders were reported in the city of Madison, which means the Madison Police Department did not investigate any murders in their jurisdiction. Huntsville Police say they investigated 27 murders and they made arrests in 22 of those cases. The Madison County Sheriff's Office patrols the area outside Huntsville and Madison city limits. They investigated 8 murders and made arrests in 7 of them.
"One of them is still pending arrest, but our person of interest is in custody on a different charge by another agency," Lt. Donny Johnson with the Madison County Sheriff's Office said.
Huntsville Police describe the homicides in their city as usually being "domestic-related, or related to drug activity, or other criminal activity," Lt. Michael Johnson with the Huntsville Police Department said.
They say because of that it can be hard to get information about what happened.
"You have witnesses and or victims that aren't cooperative that just complicates and slows down the ability for us to put these much-needed offenders in jail," Johnson said.
To help investigators solve these remaining murder cases police are asking people to come forward if they have information. People can do that anonymously.
"You can message us on any of our social media pages," Johnson said.
Police say in some cases, it takes a community effort to make an arrest.
On top of continuing investigations from recent years, the Huntsville Police Department has developed a cold case squad. These investigators are tracking leads for murders that happened in their jurisdiction several years ago.