More people were murdered in Los Angeles in the first six months of 2022 than during the same period in any of the past 15 years.
From Jan. 1–June 30, 2022, there were 181 homicides in the city, according to publicly available Los Angeles Police Department data. That slightly exceeds the 178 killed in the same timeframe last year.
In all of 2021, there were 397 homicides. That marked the highest annual total since 2007.
The count in the first six months does not automatically mean Los Angeles will surpass last year’s grim tally. Homicides tend to spike in the summer, and the 48 killings last July was a historic outlier, the only month in the last 12 years with more than 39 murders. A comparative decline this and next month could put the city below the previous year’s pace.
While the number of overall homicides is similar to the same point in 2021, many more people are being killed than before the pandemic. From Jan. 1–June 30, 2019, there were 129 murders in the city.
During recent meetings with the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said the rising murder rate is being driven by two primary categories: homicides involving gang members, and killings of people experiencing homelessness.
In the first half of 2022, the LAPD classified 42 victims—23.2% of the total—as unhoused. That is up from 37 in the same timeframe last year. From Jan. 1–June 30, 2019, 23 homicide victims were unhoused.
More shots fired
The heightened death toll comes amid an increase in gun use. Moore has repeatedly stated that firearms are being used more frequently in street robberies, with sometimes deadly results. This includes ghost guns, which are untraceable, unregistered weapons that can be manufactured from a kit or a 3D printer. So far this year, approximately 20% of the illegal weapons recovered by the LAPD have been ghost guns.
More than three out of every four homicides in Los Angeles this year involved some type of firearm.
The increase in Los Angeles homicides echoes a trend seen in major metropolitan areas across the nation since the onset of COVID-19. Chicago last year recorded 797 murders, its highest count in a quarter century.
During the June 21 Police Commission meeting, Moore said that through early June, the city was seeing 3.8 homicides per 100,000 residents. He compared this with the 8.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in Houston, 13.7 per 100,000 in Philadelphia, and 7.7 per 100,000 in Dallas.
Los Angeles, Moore said, “remains much safer than many of our other large cities.”
Yet Los Angeles is experiencing a higher death rate than some other California cities. Moore said that through early June, San Francisco had recorded 20 homicides, for a rate of 2.3 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. In San Diego the rate is 1.7 per 100,000.
Many more male deaths
Homicides are never uniform. The week of June 5–11 produced 15 murders in Los Angeles, a level not exceeded since 2010. In six different weeks this year, there were four murders.
There have been 17 homicides in densely packed Downtown in 2022, more than any other neighborhood. Another concentration of killings has been in a trio of South Los Angeles communities bisected by Vermont Avenue.
Men remain far more likely to be murder victims in Los Angeles than women. In the first half of 2022, 158 males were killed. Just 12.7% of the victims were female.
According to police data, arrests have been made in about 43% of the killings. As of June 30, the investigation was ongoing in 100 cases.
More than one-third of the homicides—67 total—took place in the streets, with another 32 on the sidewalk, according to LAPD data. There was one killing in a gas station and one in a cemetery.
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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