SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — In Shreveport, 2020 is shaping up to be one of the deadliest years in recent memory.
Nine months into the year and the city already has laid to rest 51 homicide victims, 27 more than recorded at the end of September 2019.
In July, Police Chief Ben Raymond stressed that Shreveport is not the only city seeing a wave of deadly violence. And it turns out that’s true according to crime numbers the FBI recently released.
In big cities throughout the nation, homicides are up by almost 15% in 2020 based on FBI data.
“There are lots and lots of places where murder is on the rise,” said Jeff Asher, a crime analyst who writes for the New York Times and VOX. “On the whole, something like 80%, 85% of the cities I was able to collect data on, and we’re talking big cities, over 250,000, we’re seeing big increases in homicide.”
While Shreveport’s per-capita homicide rate is on par with cities like Washington, Philadelphia and Atlanta, the ArkLaTex isn’t a major metropolitan area.
KSLA Investigates decided to examine 2020 homicide numbers of four other Southern cities — Mobile, Ala., Chattanooga, Tenn., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Jackson, Miss. — to see how Shreveport compares. Each of the chosen cities has a population similar in size to Shreveport.
And the first number we looked at was total homicides for 2020 through the end of September.
Currently, Shreveport has 51. That falls second to the 91 homicides recorded in Jackson.
Mobile and Fort Lauderdale land in the middle of the comparison, with 31 and 29 homicides respectively.
While Chattanooga — at 24 — has the lowest number of unjustified killings Jan. 1 through the end of September.
Asher believes the spike in homicides can be blamed, in part, on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a likelihood we are seeing a lot of the mental stresses, economic stresses, everything that everyone is going through with the pandemic,” Asher said. “This is just sort of the extreme exemplification of that.”
KSLA Investigates next looked at the year-to-year homicide rates, finding that right now, homicides are up 123% in Fort Lauderdale. Shreveport isn’t far behind, with homicides increasing 112% this year.
In Chattanooga, the homicide rate is up 50% and Jackson is seeing a 42% spike. Meanwhile, Mobile is witnessing a much smaller increase in homicides, at just 3%.
Despite the distressing homicide data, Asher remains positive, saying it’s too early to tell whether 2020 is shaping up to be a statistical outlier or a historically deadly year, predicting an upward trend in homicidal violence.
“A lot of the stresses that contributed to homicide going up in 2020, especially in the March, April, May time frame, in theory, a lot of those will start to abate in 2021, but it’s really hard to say,” Asher said.
Right now in Shreveport, June and September stand out at as the deadliest months with each recording nine homicides.
And there’s been six months this year during which the city witnessed six or more homicides.
In 2019, however, that only happened once.
Now if the current rate of one homicide every 5 days continues, Shreveport will witness 65 unjustified killings by year’s end. That would leave 2020 in Shreveport as the deadliest year on record since 1993.