As homicide rates rose in many major American cities over the past year, Bell County saw 26 violent deaths during 2021.

At least 18 homicides occurred in Killeen in 2021, down from the record of 31 homicides set in the west Bell County city in 2020.

Temple, the county’s second-largest city, also saw a decrease in homicides in 2021, with five slayings recorded. That was two less homicides than what the Temple Police Department reported in 2020.

Belton had two homicides and Troy had one.

Temple

Roderick Keith Harris

The first Temple homicide of 2021 was the shooting death of Roderick Keith Harris, 38.

Three Temple residents — Elizabeth Renee Moore, 31, Conception Quinones, 26, and Deon Le Felland, 18 — were indicted for Harris’ murder.

Harris allegedly was shot in retaliation after his son bought marijuana with counterfeit money, according to arrest affidavits for the three suspects.

At about 7:45 p.m. Jan. 16, the affidavit said, Harris was struck outside his house in the 600 block of East Young Avenue during a drive-by shooting.

During a week-long investigation, Temple Police detectives determined Moore was the driver while Felland fired a shot at the house, and Quinones allegedly fired the deadly blast that killed Harris.

All three were arrested and are being held at the Bell County Jail — Quinones in lieu of a $1 million bond, Moore in lieu of a $200,000 bond, and Felland in lieu of bonds totaling $361,750.

Claire Hernandez

Claire Hernandez, 19, was shot while sitting inside a car on the 1800 block of East French Avenue on Feb. 24.

Hernandez was transported to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple, where she succumbed to her injuries.

Christopher James DeLeon Jr., 19, was indicted on a murder charge for the shooting on May 18. He was initially charged with manslaughter. His charge was upgraded to murder on May 3.

DeLeon initially told police he was sitting in a car with Hernandez when a vehicle drove by and someone inside shot at them, injuring her, according to an arrest affidavit.

As the investigation progressed, detectives noted on the affidavit DeLeon was intoxicated and allegedly shot Hernandez accidentally.

DeLeon is being held at the Bell County Jail in lieu of bonds totaling $345,000.

Cobe Hilliard

Cobe Hilliard, 19, of Temple was critically wounded during a drive-by shooting on March 3.

A 17-year-old was arrested for the crime on Dec 13, but no information has been released about the juvenile since he was 16 at the time of the shooting.

Juvenile authorities will handle his case, and will determine whether to prosecute him as a juvenile or seek adult certification to prosecute him in the adult criminal justice system.

Temple Police Department spokeswoman Kiara Nowlin confirmed a juvenile was arrested on a murder warrant on the case.

“We have not participated yet in presenting this to the grand jury and are unaware if or when that would occur,” she said. “That is determined by the Bell County DA’s office as to if or when this would occur.”

Bell County Assistant District Attorney Erica Morgan said the juvenile cases were handled by the Bell County Attorney’s office.

Jim Murphy from the Bell County Attorney’s office said all juvenile cases were confidential and that he would not release any information on the case.

Hilliard was shot at about 12:56 a.m. March 3 near the intersection of South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and South 24th Street, according to city of Temple officials.

He was taken to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center–Temple, where he died the next day.

Dwayne Hambrick

On July 7, Temple resident Dewayne Hambrick, 48, was shot and killed while living at the Navigators Unlimited LLC Trucking company at 3910 Shallow Ford West Road.

August Sanders, 26, of Temple, was initially was charged with murder for the death but was cleared of the charge by a Bell County grand jury after being incarcerated for about two months after claiming self-defense.

According to an arrest affidavit filed by the Temple Police Department, Hambrick died of a gunshot wound to the head after an altercation with Sanders.

An initial court filing from the arrest accused Sanders of the crime, but he was eventually cleared after police determined he shot Hambrick while in a chokehold by the deceased.

Sanders spent more than two months in jail on the murder charge, but walked out the Bell County Jail as a free man in September.

“I’m blessed,” Sanders told the Telegram outside the jail. “I do feel remorse for the (Hambrick) family and I do apologize to the family.”

Tyvonte Barnes

Former Temple High School student Tyvonte Barnes was shot and killed Dec. 13 in the 800 block of East Avenue C.

Emergency responders attempted to revive the teen but were unsuccessful.

Temple Police Department Spokeswoman Kiara Nowlin said this shooting was an active investigation.

“There have not been any arrests at this time,” she said. “We are still investigating to determine all the parties involved in this incident.”

Barnes withdrew from Temple High School in February 2020, according to Temple Independent School District spokesman Jon Wallin.

Belton

Jamel Jones

The first homicide of 2021 in Belton was the shooting death of Jamel Jones, 39. Jones was shot in the torso at about 3:11 p.m. July 30 at the Belle Oaks Apartment in the 1100 block of Shady Lane.

Deon Shamburger, 34, is accused of the crime and was caught in Oklahoma City on Nov. 30.

Shamburger was extradited to Bell County on Dec. 17 and is currently housed at the Bell County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.

He has not been indicted in the case, and no case information appears on this case in court records.

Antonio Alvidrez

Antonio Alvidrez was the second homicide in Belton for 2021.

Alvidrez, 32, of Euless, was shot Sept. 12 while driving south on Interstate 35.

He died from his injuries after crashing a white Chevrolet Trailblazer into the Lampasas River after being shot.

City of Belton spokesman Paul Romer previously told the Telegram that Alvidrez’s SUV had bullet holes.

The Belton Police Department continues investigating the case.

“This is an active case, so limited details are available,” Candice Griffin, city of Belton support services manager, said. “We are actively pursuing multiple leads and would appreciate the public’s assistance in coming forward with any information they may have regarding reckless drivers that night or information they may have heard since the murder occurred. We are working to eliminate multiple people that were identified in the area at the time of this incident.”

Troy

Anthony Scott Csombok

The 2021 homicide in Troy was the June 11 stabbing death of Anthony Scott Csombok, 58, a Carlsbad, N.M., man.

His stepson, Manuel Paul Romero III, 46, also of Carlsbad, N.M., was indicted on a murder charge on Aug. 31.

Csombok was stabbed with a fork while he and Romero visited Troy and had an altercation.

Romero is being held at the Bell County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.