LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Families across Kentucky's largest city are grieving as the number of victims of violent crime continues to climb.
Louisville Metro Police Department's (LMPD) latest count reports 148 criminal homicides so far this year, 136 of which were fatal shootings.
Austin Fitzpatrick, 26, is among those killed. His parents are left seeking justice and crying out for community help, in hopes that any tip could lead to the arrest of their son's killer.
Eva Helms, Austin's mother, remembers the Nov. 16 morning when the coroner's office came to deliver the terrible news in person. Helms says she was in disbelief.
"His life was taken from us," Helms said.
She and Leo Fitzpatrick, Austin's father, have since tried to piece together the scene that might have played out the morning their son died.
Helms says her son was arriving home to his Old Louisville apartment from a camping trip with his girlfriend when someone followed him into his apartment and shot him to death to take his new car.
"If I had had the chance, I would tell him I love him a lot more. I mean, I know he knew we loved him so much, but I never thought that I would lose him," Helms said tearfully.
"They just shot him dead," she continued, "With no regard for human life...and they will do this again. I don't know what kind of people do this, but if it was that easy for them to take a life."
Leo calls it "senseless." Carjackings, road rage shootings, the gun violence scenarios are piling on, leading to a record number of criminal homicides.
"It's not isolated to one place, it feels like it's becoming the norm of the city right now," he said. "Just taking somebody's life for material things for the moment...It's just beyond words."
Their daughter, Austin's 24-year-old sister, lived nearby his apartment. This doesn't make matters easier for the family.
"My daughter actually heard the gunshots that night," Leo said. "My daughter has to drive by the place where my son was murdered. I have to worry about another child that's in the same area."
"I'm angry now," Helms added. "I'm angry, and I want the police to catch them and to stop it."
Austin's parents are pleading for anyone who may have seen something or heard anything to contact LMPD. The anonymous tip line is 574-LMPD. They hope a tip that helps solve their son's murder can perhaps lead to solving other violent crimes in the city.