Homicides in Los Angeles fell 17% in 2023, marking the second consecutive year that the number ticked down. However, murders still outpaced the period before the pandemic, and deadly violence was chronicled in nearly every corner of the city.
Last Wednesday Mayor Karen Bass and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore announced that the city experienced 327 homicides in 2023. Although that is a significant drop from the 402 killings in 2021, it marks the fourth consecutive year with more than 300 murders in city limits. That level was not hit even once in the 2010s.
Still, violence has been much worse. In 1993 there were nearly 1,100 murders in the city.
Among the most notable aspects of the reduction last year was a sharp decline in killings of people experiencing homelessness. After 92 unhoused individuals were killed in 2022, the count fell to 56.
Still, the situation remains dangerous for many on the streets. In December, three unhoused men in different neighborhoods were murdered. Jerrid Joseph Powell was arrested and charged with those killings, as well as one other homicide.
The LAPD has four geographic bureaus, and homicides in 2023 fell in each of them compared with the previous year. The greatest decline was in South Bureau, which covers much of South Los Angeles and extends to San Pedro. There were 111 murders there last year, down from 146 in 2022, according to the department’s annual Homicide Report.
Twenty-five different neighborhoods registered five or more homicides last year. The highest count was the 35 murders Downtown.
Forty-nine of the 114 neighborhoods in the city recorded two or more homicides in 2023. The rest had one or no murder victims.
Once again last year, guns played an outsized role in homicides. According to publicly available LAPD data, a firearm was the murder weapon 236 times, or in 72% of the killings.
A knife or other sharp object was identified as the weapon in 37 murders. There were 17 killings that involved bodily force, according to police data.
During the press conference, Moore said that 1,206 people were shot in Los Angeles last year. That was down 10% from 2022.
However, he lamented that gun violence remains higher than in the pre-pandemic period. He pointed to robberies and gun use last year compared with 2019.
“While robberies are overall down 10% in that comparison period, they’re up 16% in that same period involving gun violence, involving firearms,” he stated.
He added that in 2023 more than 30% of robberies involved a gun. “That number used to be 15-20%,” he stated.
A key driver of the decline in homicides was a sharp reduction in killings during the summer. In July and August, there were a total of 60 murders. The count in the same months in 2023 was 89. In July and August of 2021 there were 84 homicides.
In 2023 there were three different months with 20 or fewer murders. In the previous three years there was only one month below that level.
There continues to be a wide gender divide in homicides. An estimated 86% of the murder victims in Los Angeles last year were men.
Black people, who comprise approximately 8.6% of the residential population of the city, according to U.S. Census figures, once again made up a disproportionate percentage of those killed. Last year 119 homicide victims, or 36.8% of the total, were Black, according to police data.
There were 159 homicide victims identified as Latino; that accounts for 48.6% of the victims. The city is approximately 48% Latino.
An estimated 28% of Los Angeles residents are white. There were 24 white murder victims, or 7.3% of the total.
Some homicides drew outsized attention. That included three women in Beverly Crest, who were shot after leaving a concert in January. Three people were later arrested and charged with murder. An investigation revealed that the deaths were tied to gang violence in Chicago.
In December, a 27-year-old man died after being stabbed on a Metro E Line train near Los Angeles Trade-Tech College. The following day a 19-year-old man turned himself in in connection with the crime.
One bright spot came in solving murders. Moore said the LAPD in 2023 had a 76% clearance rate, meaning someone was arrested, or the crime was otherwise solved. He said that matched the previous year, and was “a significant improvement from 2021.”
How we did it: We examined publicly available crime data from the Los Angeles Police Department from Jan. 1, 2010–Dec. 31, 2023.
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.