Police Arrest Suspect in String of Random Hammer Attacks

Charles Maurice Murray | Image by Plano Police Dept

Dallas police arrested a man on Thursday purportedly linked to several random hammer attacks around the metroplex.

Charles Maurice Murray, 26, of Dallas, allegedly assaulted three people with a hammer in separate incidents that occurred within 24 hours in Plano and Dallas. The suspect reportedly struck out at his victims for no apparent reason, with no words exchanged or items stolen, reported CBS News Texas.

The first two attacks were connected to Dallas Area Rapid Transit, one on a train traveling from Plano to Dallas on April 8, after which the suspect got off at the Lovers Lane stop, and the other at an unidentified DART station on April 9. Murray reportedly travels using DART public transportation, the Plano Police Department (PPD) said, per CBS News Texas.

The most recent attack happened at a convenience store located in the 600 block of Coit Road in Plano at approximately 7 p.m. on April 9. Responding officers found a male victim injured and bleeding.

“It happened inside of a restroom where obviously you don’t have surveillance video, but the fact that it’s kind of a vulnerable place, right, so you go in there expecting to have some privacy, and then this happens,” PPD officer Jennifer Chapman told NBC 5 DFW.

Nonetheless, images of the alleged assailant were captured as he exited the convenience store, hammer in hand. Surveillance footage from all three incidents shows the man wearing the same clothes.

“It’s quite possible that he may be homeless, but we have not confirmed that,” Chapman told CBS News Texas.

Shortly after Plano police released photographs of the suspect on Wednesday evening, someone called in with a tip. As a result, Dallas police found Murray at a residence and arrested him at around 12:30 a.m. on April 11. He has since been transported to the Plano City Jail.

Detectives from PPD’s Crimes Against Persons Unit are still investigating the matter. Anyone with information relevant to the case is urged to call the tip line at 972-941-2148.

After the attack on April 8, the suspect allegedly got off the train at Lovers Lane, a DART station located in Council Member Paula Blackmon’s District 9. As of April 10, this district had logged 240 of the city’s 5,542 assault offenses reported this year, according to data from the City’s crime analytics dashboard. Victims of assault have mostly been black or Hispanic individuals, per City data.

DART has its own police force and logged 267 arrests and 164 Group A offenses, including assaults, drug offenses, robberies, and more, in February. Officers’ average response times for Priority 1 calls haven’t exceeded the goal of 8 minutes since July 2023. In February, they had logged an average response time of 3 minutes and 51 seconds.

By comparison, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) clocked an average response time for Priority 1 calls of 9.3 minutes in February. Lower priority calls saw even longer wait times in February, with Priority 2 calls seeing an average response time of 61.2 minutes, Priority 3 calls 184.1 minutes, and Priority 4 calls 213.1 minutes, despite the respective goals of 12 minutes, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes.

DPD has been critically understaffed for years, dampening its impact on crime and, thus, the maintenance of public safety. Around 3,000 officers are fielded, although a City analysis recommended that the number be closer to 4,000.

Additionally, City leaders have approved a budget of $654 million for DPD this fiscal year, significantly less than the spending on policing seen in other high-crime municipalities, such as Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles.

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