Tracy Ware, originally of Texas City, remembers the Mitchell brothers from when they were young children, she said.

“They were close brothers,” she said. “And what I’ll remember about Miles is his smile.”

Miles Christian Mitchell, 18, of Texas City, died late Sunday after being shot, along with his brother, at a fast-food restaurant in La Marque, the latest in what some law enforcement officials say is a spate of violence breaking out in the mid-county.

“I just don’t understand what’s going on,” Ware said. “Just recently, it seems like there’s a rash of things like this happening. But, in so many years living here in Texas City, it was never like that.”

The specific cause of the increase in violence is hard to trace, according to several local law enforcement agencies. But some investigators are seeing a definite increase.

“We’ve had seven shootings in the past month,” Lt. Chad Waggoner, spokesman for the La Marque Police Department, said. “There’s definitely been an increase in gun violence.”

La Marque police during March 2018 received no reports of shootings, records show.

While each case is slightly different, there’s one emerging theme behind much of the violence this year — drugs and guns, said detective Evelyn Arredondo, spokeswoman for the La Marque Police Department.

“You’ve got a bunch of people who want to get in the game and carry guns,” she said. “They don’t know what can happen.”

While no one involved in the shootings this March have been charged with any drug-related crimes, they have all involved young people with access to firearms.

The Sunday shooting at the Sonic Drive-In, 2000 FM 1764, in which Miles Mitchell died, and his brother Marcellous Marcus Mitchell, 20, was severely injured is just the latest example of increasing violence, Arredondo said.

Police early Monday arrested a 15-year-old boy in connection with the killing of Miles Mitchell, but because of his age, authorities have not released his name, Waggoner said.

And a drive-by shooting on March 17 that led to a high-speed chase that led to a roll-over crash and the arrests of two teenagers might stem from a beef between local rap groups, investigators have said.

Cameron Tucker, 19, of San Leon, and Isaac Brown, 17, of Bacliff were arrested after a 20-mile chase ending in Dickinson in connection to that drive-by.

“You have different groups,” Arredondo said. “Some of them involve different rap groups, but the incident on Sunday didn’t involve rap groups.”

While violence itself isn’t new, social media and the internet have made disagreements more public and caused a proliferation of problems, Arredondo said.

The problem isn’t even exclusive to La Marque, said Cpl. Allen Bjerke, spokesman for the Texas City Police Department.

“I can’t put a pulse on it,” he said. “But it’s not just here — it’s in Houston as well. Back in the ‘90s and 2000s, you could attribute it to gangs. But these days, I can’t put a pinpoint on what’s sparking it.”

It doesn’t help that much of La Marque city limits fall very near Interstate 45, said Colleen Merritt, spokeswoman for the city.

“Unfortunately, most of the crimes are committed by people who don’t live in the city limits,” she said. “They come because of the high traffic on I-45.”

While local residents have noticed an increase in violent crime, Bjerke on Tuesday denied that much of that was extending to Texas City.

“On our side, we aren’t seeing an influx or increase in violence,” Bjerke said.

But the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and La Marque Police Department in March executed a search warrant at a Texas City hotel and uncovered an AK-47 style rifle that investigators suspect was used in the La Marque drive-by on Linden Street.

La Marque police also are investigating the case of a 25-year-old woman who was injured at an early morning shooting near a La Marque nightclub.

Police responded about 1:40 a.m. to a report of shots fired in the 5100 block of FM 1765, according to the department. The location is across the street from a restaurant and nightclub on the La Marque side of FM 1765, according to the department.

At the scene police found a 25-year-old woman had been shot in the ankle, police said. Several vehicles in the area also had been struck by bullets, police said.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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