Last year, the city of Los Angeles experienced 397 homicides. It was the highest count since 2007, and the mounting number of murders, along with an overall rise in gun violence, has driven a heated discussion over crime and public safety.
Las Angeles has been just as deadly in the first three quarters of 2022. Through Oct. 1, there were 304 homicides, according to LAPD Compstat data. That is the exact same number of victims as at this point last year.
While the number has stayed steady, there is a marked change from the period before the pandemic. This year’s count represents a 52% increase over the equivalent timeframe in 2019.
The death toll so far in 2022 already exceeds any full year from the 2010s. The low point in the last decade was 2013, when there were 251 killings, according to an annual count from the LAPD.
The last time the city saw more than 400 murders was in 2006. That year, there were 480 homicides.
The situation in Los Angeles is not unique, as many major cities across the country have experienced an uptick in homicides since the start of the pandemic. For example, Chicago last year counted 797 murders, a 60% increase over the pre-COVID year of 2019.
New York City last year recorded 488 murders, up from 319 in 2019. Yet this year the numbers in New York are down; through Oct. 2 there had been 327 homicides, according to NYPD data. At the same time in 2021, there had been 378.
Los Angeles’ rising death count can be partly attributed to a surge in firearms use that began early in the pandemic—that has also been seen in other cities. LAPD Chief Michel Moore has repeatedly cited an increase in the use and seizure of “ghost guns,” untraceable weapons that can be manufactured with parts ordered off the Internet, or sometimes produced using a 3D printer.
“The only reason those guns exist is for people who otherwise are unable lawfully to possess a gun,” Moore told the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission on Sept. 17. At the meeting he added that through the end of July, the LAPD had recovered 5,086 firearms, with 1,244 of them being ghost guns.
According to police data, a firearm was the murder weapon in 232 instances in the first nine months of the year. That accounts for 76.3% of the homicides. A knife was employed 36 times.
The deadliest months
Murders tend to increase during the summer, and this July and August were particularly deadly, with 43 and 44 homicides, respectively. Since 2010, the only month with a higher death toll was July 2021, where there were 48 homicides, according to publicly available Los Angeles Police Department data.
Deaths fell in September, with 30 murders. Still, there were 117 homicides in the third quarter of the year. That is the second-highest quarterly total in the city since 2010, trailing only the 122 murder victims in the third quarter of 2021.
Densely populated Downtown has experienced 30 murders the year, more than any other neighborhood in Los Angeles. There have been 15 homicides each in Boyle Heights and Florence. Westlake saw 13 killings and there were 11 in Vermont Knolls.
So far this year, 87.5% of those killed were men. The youngest victim was a 5-year-old boy who died on July 25 in East Hollywood. His father, Darwin Reyes, was arrested after the child’s body was found in a bathtub.
The oldest victim was an 87-year-old man stabbed to death in Del Rey on Feb. 4.
According to police data, 23.7% of the homicide victims this year were unhoused. The tally includes 11 who were killed in Downtown. The neighborhood encompasses the impoverished community of Skid Row.
As of last week, no arrest had been made in just over 60% of the homicides.
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.
Have questions about our data or want to know more? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.