LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A body found in an abandoned building this morning launched Little Rock’s first homicide investigation in about four weeks.

According to the Little Rock Police Department, someone called the agency just before 7:30 A.M. reporting the body in a vacant building that used to be a Pizza Hut located on McMath Drive, between Interstate 30 and McArthur Park.

Crime scene tape surrounded the spot Monday morning where Little Rock Police homicide detectives went to work. It was feet away from where Brittany Garner and her son went to play.

“You just think you’re going to a nice park, and then it is upsetting,” Garner said as she watched police leave the scene.

Officers could not determine the full extent of the injuries the man had which may have led to his death. Including Monday, the city has recorded seven homicides in 2023 almost half of the 12 recorded as of March 6, 2022.

The latest weekly crime statistics provided by police through February 7, 2023 showed a 13% decrease in violent crime overall in the capital city compared to 2022.

That trend extends to the largest cities of the country. Police reports show year-to-date murders are down 17% in New York City, 18% in Chicago, and 33% in Los Angeles.

Looking at cities similarly sized to Little Rock, Birmingham is down 35%, going from 20 homicides in 2022 to 13 in 2023. But Shreveport is trending upward with 13 homicides year to date compared to 12 at this time in 2022, an 8% increase.

The decrease is little comfort to Robert Pelegrin who lives down the street from Little Rock’s latest suspicious death.

“I guess we’ll see what the cause of death is, but either way, there will definitely be an eerie feeling going around the area,” Pelegrin said.

Both he and Garner urge people to keep an eye on their surroundings so that their neighborhood doesn’t become a criminal’s playground.

“When you see that in the background obviously, it does make you think twice,” Garner said.

Police have not released the identity of the man killed as of this time. No arrests have been reported. Police sent the body to the state crime lab and expect results before the end of the week.