‘That number is a crisis’: Memphis tops 300 homicides in 2020

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The city of Memphis sits at 302 homicides so far this year. That’s nearly a sixty percent increase from last year’s number of 191.

It’s also 74 more than the record-breaking year in 2016 when 228 people were homicide victims.

It’s an unfortunate milestone especially when you factor in that the city is still trying to save lives in this ongoing pandemic.

If you add up numbers for 2018 and 2019 you would see that’s it’s not too far off from the number of homicides in 2020 alone.

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“That number is a crisis,” said Michael LaBonte, the Executive Director at the Memphis Crisis Center. It’s a non-profit that provides help to the community to cut down on violence and address mental health.

“We’re dealing with a trifecta here that’s creating this. That includes not only the pandemic. It includes the economic instability and also the political uncertainty,” LaBonte said.

As of Monday morning, Memphis reported 302 homicides so far in 2020. Thirty-one of those are children.

Over the past three years the city has seen drastic increases in these numbers, but nothing like this year.

RELATED: POLICE: Memphis hits another grim milestone in homicide numbers

Through the same date in 2019, there were 189 homicides reported. In 2018 there were 166.

“This is a push to my friends in the state legislature. We need to see sensible gun control laws so that unlawful weapons don’t end up on the street,” saod Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley.

Smiley says tackling illegal and stolen guns could help prevent the numbers from rising this high in the future.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland released the following statement:

“For decades, violent crime has plagued our city, and it’s been one of the most frustrating and challenging obstacles during my time as mayor. It breaks my heart to see our citizens, especially our young people, taken from their families and friends due to violence.”

RELATED: MPD: Child in critical condition after Sunday night shooting

Strickland went on to say the city has a crime plan and is working it every day, but they need help from the citizens too.

Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings also sent a statement saying he’s deeply saddened that we’ve eclipsed this grim milestone.

“My heart aches for all 302 homicide victims and their loved ones. Every senseless loss is tragic. I know that we are better than what this number reflects,” Ralling said.

Director Rallings went on to say that violent crime is a problem nationwide, but it can be avoided with simple steps like walking away and calling the police. He says it’s important to bring closure to the victims’ families this holiday season and any help or tips that can be shared can make a big different by calling Crimestoppers at 901-528-CASH.