By the numbers: St. Louis homicides surpass last year's total | St. Louis Public Radio

By the numbers: St. Louis homicides surpass last year's total

Oct 22, 2015

St. Louis police confirmed the city's 160th homicide earlier this week, a number that surpasses last year's murder total. 

Authorities report a man in his mid-40s was shot several times and found Tuesday morning at Goodfellow and Page boulevards. He later died at an area hospital. Investigators said they have no suspects or motive at this point.

That lack of suspects or motives is a common theme among the city's homicide investigations. Recent police data show that arrests have been made in only about a third of those cases, while the rest remain open investigations. In most cases, the motive is unknown, but several homicides involved robberies, arguments, retaliation and drugs.

As of September, homicides in the city are up more than 51 percent compared with last year, while total crime was up 10 percent compared with last year. (These numbers don't include homicides and crimes from October; the St. Louis police update homicide numbers weekly.)

Here are some more significant statistics: 

  • 96 percent of murders in 2015 involved guns
  • More than half of the victims were ages 20 to 29 years old; 26 victims were 30 to 39
  • More than 90 percent of victims were black.
  • In most murders, the relationship between victim and suspect is unknown, but in more than a quarter of cases, they were acquaintances.
  • The greatest concentration of murders occurred in the Wells-Goodfellow (13), the Greater Ville (13), Baden (10) and JeffVanderLou (10) neighborhoods.

Earlier this month, Chief Sam Dotson and Mayor Francis Slay attended a meeting in Washington, D.C., along with leaders from about 20 cities to discuss rising violent crime across the country. Dotson, who has previously blamed the city's increase in violence, in part, on Missouri's lax gun laws, announced a task force involving the FBI, federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other law enforcement agencies earlier this year to target crime. Slay also recently announced he's restarting a Commission on Violent Crime to develop new strategies.

Others see the city's homicides as a public health problem and are taking unique steps to address it. Anti-violence groups are becoming increasingly active in the city, and faith leaders are engaging in a "ministry of presence" to deter crime. The city department's Downtown Police Bike Unit is also raising awareness about gun violence with an art exhibit that closes Oct. 24.