The murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle on March 31 was part of a wave of gun violence that plagued Los Angeles this past spring, pushing up the total number of shootings in the city compared with recent years.
There were 762 reports of people shot in the City of Los Angeles from Jan. 1 – Sept. 30, 2019, a 4.3% increase from the same period a year earlier, according to LAPD data.
The most commonly used firearms were handguns, semi-automatic pistols and revolvers.
Guns were also the weapon used in more than two-thirds of the 203 murders committed in the city during the first nine months of the year.
Capt. Paul Vernon of the LAPD CompStat Division said the increase in gun violence can be attributed to a number of shootings that occurred over a six-week period from March into April that appeared to crescendo with the murder of Nipsey Hussle, and trailed off soon after.
Indeed, there was a jump from February, when there were 52 reported incidents, to March and April, when there were 98 and 113 incidents, respectively. In May, the incidents fell to 86, according to LAPD data.
Florence, Broadway-Manchester and Hyde Park were the top neighborhoods for victims of gun violence during the first nine months of this year, but Downtown saw the biggest increase in victims, spiking nearly four times the number compared to the same time last year.
Although Vermont Square was the only neighborhood on our list to see a dip in gun violence during the first nine months of this year compared to last, that did not prevent a gang-related shooting at 8 p.m. on May 14 at a park on 47th Street and Budlong Ave. that left a 5-year-old girl and two adults injured, according to LAPD data.
Albert Farias, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, witnessed the shooting. Farias said he was at the Vermont Square Library when he heard gunshots and saw “multiple shooters shooting into the park where children were playing.”
There was another incident earlier in the year that left nine male victims shot in a parking lot at 7:15 p.m. on April 27 on the 700 block of N. San Fernando Rd in Cypress Park. The victims ranged in age from 17 to 36. Eight of the victims were Hispanic; one was white. The LAPD also classified the crime as “gang-related.” The department is still investigating the crime, according to a spokesperson.
Farias, who is also vice chair of his local neighborhood council, said law enforcement agencies, including the LAPD, believe the majority of gun violence cases in his area are gang-related.
“This answer is used to shrug off the violence as an artifact of the community we live in,” said Farias, who was careful to specify his opinion is his own and is linked neither to USC nor his neighborhood council. “The normalized culture of gun violence among city officials in our area keeps me up at night knowing that not even our parks and public spaces are safe for children and the cycle can continue if community members adopt this culture.”
Despite the increase in reports of victims being shot during the first nine months of this year compared to last, we are living in one of the lowest periods of violent crime in the city of any living person’s memory, according to Capt. Vernon.
Indeed, since the LAPD began making its data available in 2010, the number of victims of gun violence has been steadily decreasing. There were 1,367 victims shot in 2010; In 2018, there were 1,009 victims shot, according to LAPD data.
Gun violence in Los Angeles made national news when Police Chief Michel Moore announced his support for universal background checks and beefed-up red flag laws.
Nationwide, advocates are pushing for gun violence to be seen as a public health issue that reframes it as a preventable disease..
Locally this could include community-based organizations hosting local events in parks and partnering with law enforcement on “peace walks” and rallies, said Farias about his South Los Angeles neighborhood.
How we did it: We examined LAPD publicly available data on reported crimes labeled with “victim shot” from the first nine months of 2019 compared to the same time period last year.
For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here. LAPD data only reflect crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. On occasion, LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.
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* This article has been amended to more precisely describe the series of shootings that occurred during the March-April period, surrounding the March 31 killing of raper Nipsey Hussle.