Last year, the city of Los Angeles recorded more than 300 murders for the first time in more than a decade. When 2020 ended, there had been 343 homicides, a 34% increase from the previous year.
This year the numbers could be even worse. In the first half of 2021, homicides continued to climb at a dramatic pace.
There were 179 murders between Jan. 1 and June 30, according to publicly available data from the Los Angeles Police Department. That marks a 31.6% increase from the same period last year, and a 38.8% rise from the 129 homicides in the same timeframe in 2019.
The 2021 figure is the highest number of murders reported in the first half of the year in more than a decade. The number of killings began spiking shortly after the onset of the pandemic.
Monthly homicide rate in Los Angeles, July 2019-June 2021
January was the deadliest month of 2021, with 39 people killed. In June, there were 38 homicides, according to the LAPD.
“As homicides are on the rise, we are working with community outreach groups, such as gang intervention groups, to address the spike in violence,” said LAPD Det. Meghan Aguilar. “We continue to encourage the community to report any information they have related to homicides through a variety of means.”
The spiking murder rate echoes some crime trends in Los Angeles, but bucks others. In the first six months of the year, overall crime in the city decreased by 4%, although aggravated assaults have risen by 13%, and the 715 people shot is 47% higher than in the same time period last year.
Killings surged in Los Angeles in the latter half of 2020, with 209 murders reported from July 1-Dec. 31.
Annual number of murders in Los Angeles, 2010-2021
Los Angeles is not alone in its violent crime surge. In New York City, the 213 murders in the first half of 2021 is a 10.9% increase over the same time last year. The 336 murders in Chicago through June 30 is similar to the same timeframe in 2020, but is 33% more than the comparative period in 2019.
As is often the case, murder and guns are linked. According to LAPD data, 73.2% of murders in Los Angeles this year involved the use of a firearm.
An overwhelming majority of the murder victims in Los Angeles are men; according to LAPD data, 160 men have been killed so far this year, compared with 16 women (gender was unknown in three instances). This includes a 15-year-old boy killed in Pacoima on Jan. 11—one of 19 Angelenos under 18 murdered this year.
Communities with highest number of murders in 2021
Downtown, home both to high-rises and the stark poverty of Skid Row, has recorded the highest number of annual murders in Los Angeles in each of the past four years. In 2020, 26 people were killed in the community.
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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