Los Angeles rides a sharp decline in summer murders

Homicides fall 48% in July and August, though troubling incidents persist

Illustration of a crime scene with a body and bullets-signed


In the two-month period from July 1–Aug. 31, 60 people were murdered in the city of Los Angeles. While that is a tragic loss of life, there is a grim silver lining: It is a 48% reduction from the 89 homicides in the same period last year. It also marks the lowest figure in that timeframe since 2019.


Bar chart of homicides in July and August in Los Angeles, 2019-2023


The count accelerates an already dramatic reversal from the wave of gun violence that hit Los Angeles during the pandemic. In 2021 there were 402 homicides in the city, the highest annual total in 14 years. In 2022 there were 382 killings.


According to LAPD Compstat data, from Jan. 1–Sept. 2 there were 208 homicides in the city. That is 67 fewer killings than in the same period in 2022.


During a meeting with the Los Angeles Police Commission on Sept. 12, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said a primary driver of the change is a decrease in murders where the victim is experiencing homelessness. He said that during the first eight months of 2022, 69 murder victims in the city were unhoused. The count this year, according to police data, is 30 victims.


Moore called the decline “a substantial achievement, and also reflective of an overall reduction in violent crime involving individuals identified as experiencing homelessness.”


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In approximately the first eight months of 2023, violent crime in Los Angeles is down 7.3%. The homicide rate in that period has fallen by 24.4%.


Summer shifts

Summer traditionally brings a rise in violent crime, including homicides, in major metropolitan areas. That includes Los Angeles, which since 2010 has tabulated only three months with more than 40 killings. All occurred in recent summers. 


The high was the 49 murders in July 2021, according to publicly available Los Angeles Police Department data. The other two peak months were last year.


This July there were 29 murders. In August there were 31.


Line chart of monthly murders in the city of Angeles


Los Angeles is not alone in seeing an overall decrease in homicides. However, the city is experiencing a greater percentage drop than some other areas.


From Jan. 1–Sept. 3, there were 274 murders in New York City, down 9.6% from the previous year, according to NYPD Compstat data. Chicago tabulated 423 killings through Sept. 3, a 9% decrease from the same period in 2022, according to Chicago Police Department Compstat figures


Challenges remain

Despite the progress in Los Angeles, there remain troubling pockets of violence. In early August, community leaders in Watts called on people not to congregate in large groups for the rest of the year, after a spate of gun violence. According to police data, there were three murders in the neighborhood in July and August.


The situation is even more troubling in Boyle Heights, which suffered nine homicides in the two-month span. That included a 16-year-old boy who was shot to death in a park on Aug. 12. Nearly two weeks later, a man and a 14-year-old boy were arrested in connection with the murder. 


According to police data, 90% of the murder victims in the city in July and August were male. The murder weapon was a firearm in 41 of the 60 killings. A knife or other edged weapon was used nine times.


Pie chart of murder weapons in Los Angeles in July and August


The impact on certain communities continues to be disproportionate. Approximately 55% of those killed in July and August were identified by police as Hispanic; according to U.S. Census data, approximately 48% of the city is Hispanic. Black people make up less than 9% of the population of the city, but in July and August they accounted for 20 victims, or 33.3% of the total.


An estimated 28% of the city of Los Angeles is white. In July and August there were three white homicide victims, or 5% of the total.


Some of the killings drew outsized attention. That included the shooting of Jose Quezada, a 46-year-old father of three who was volunteering at a Summer Night Lights event in Wilmington on July 27. On Aug. 4, 28-year-old Brandyn Mendez and another individual were shot in Van Nuys after getting off an Orange Line bus and becoming involved in a confrontation. Mendez was taken to the hospital, where he died. 


Last Tuesday, the LAPD announced that 19-year-old Angel Garcia had been arrested in Mexico for the crime, and was transported back to Los Angeles. He has been charged with murder by the District Attorney’s office. He is being held on $2 million bail. 


How we did it: We examined publicly available crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department from July 1, 2010–Aug. 31, 2023, along with LAPD Compstat data. 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.


Have questions about our data or want to know more? Write to us at askus@xtown.la.