AUSTIN -- Police met Monday with residents of a Central Austin neighborhood who are both worried and scared after a woman was killed in her home on New Year's Day.
Police found the body of Esme Barrera, 29, in her home near 31st and King streets. Police believe that two other women in the area were attacked the same day that Barrera was found dead.
On Monday, a rosary was held for Barrera, a musician and elementary school staff member, in her native El Paso.
Police met with residents at the First English Lutheran Church, 3001 Whitis Avenue, as part of a regular scheduled meeting of the Heritage Neighborhood Association. Meeting attendees wanted to know if the string of crimes, including Barrera’s death and two attacks of women across the street, along with an indecent exposure case from five to six blocks east, were all connected.
Austin police told the crowd that they while they are combing through 250 tips and have conducted DNA testing. They have no indication at this point that any of the crimes are connected.
“That's one of the things we want to try to do is to try to answer whatever questions we can about this particular investigation and hopefully we'll dispel some of the rumors,” said Assistant Chief Raul Munguia of the Austin Police Department.
Some of the attendees questioned what APD response time is to violent crimes. Chief Art Acevedo said it’s seven-minutes. Others questioned why only one officer responded to the first attack of a woman across the street from Barrera moments before she was killed. An APD commander told the crowd that the department is reviewing procedure and the officer’s actions.
Chief Acevedo encouraged all attendees to come to the A.P.D. Commander’s Forum on February 7th at 6:30 p.m. at the Cornerstone Church. 1101 Reinli Street.