LA murders inch upward, even during COVID-19 shutdown

Crime is down, criminal homicides are up

Illustration by JD LeRoy of a blue gun sitting against a blue background to illustrate the rise in murder numbers in the City of Los Angeles during the first six months of 2020.



Crime fell by more than 9% across the City of Los Angeles during the first half of the year, as the city spent months in COVID-19-induced lockdown. Yet the number of criminal homicides crept up. 


There were 136 people murdered in the city from Jan. 1 – June 30 of this year. During the first six months of last year, there were 129. This total includes both criminal homicides and negligent manslaughter.



Breaking with historical violence


While tragically high, Los Angeles murders during these first six months of 2020 are part of a steep decline from just a few decades earlier. Last year, the Los Angeles Police Department reported a record low number of murder victims, with 259 total people killed. That’s a 76% drop from the 1,092 people murdered in the city in 1992, the year of widespread protests stemming from the police beating of Rodney King. Authorities at the time blamed access to guns, gang violence and civil unrest. A decade before that, in 1980, 1,028 people were killed in the city. 


Over the last 10 years, criminal homicides have generally been declining

A bar chart showing criminal homicide numbers in Los Angeles from Jan. 1, 2010 - Dec. 31, 2019.
Designed by JD LeRoy


City of Los Angeles murder victims by race

Of the 136 victims during the first half of this year, 68 were Hispanic, according to LAPD data, 47 were Black, 11 were white and two were Asian. There were eight people whose ethnic background was listed as “Other” or “Unknown.” 


The numbers tell a disturbing and familiar story of how persistent racial inequity seeps into everything from tech platforms to Coronavirus deaths and crime. Black people made up 35% of victims, but only account for 8.9% of the city’s population. People of Hispanic descent made up 50% of murder victims in Los Angeles and 48.6% of the city’s population. White people were 8% of murder victims, but 28.5% of the city’s population.


Homicide victims by race

Pie chart of murder victims by race for the first six months of 2020
Designed by JD LeRoy

Age range of victims of criminal homicide

During the first six months of 2020, five victims had their ages listed as “0,” which may mean they were infants, or may mean the LAPD did not know their ages. The next youngest victims were teenagers: One 15-year-old was killed, two 16-year-olds, two seventeen-year-olds, three eighteen-year-olds and three nineteen-year-olds.


The oldest victims from Jan. 1 – June 30 were 85, 76, 75 and 72. 


Los Angeles murders by neighborhood 

Criminal homicides were spread across the city during the first six months of the year, with nine murders reported in Downtown, eight in Boyle Heights, seven in South Park, six in East Hollywood, five in both Koreatown and Van Nuys and four in each of the following neighborhoods: Historic South-Central, Manchester Square, Pacoima, San Pedro and Vermont Square




How we did it: We examined publicly available LAPD data on reports of criminal homicide and negligent manslaughter from Jan. 1 2010 – June 30, 2020. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects 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. 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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