JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A spike in killings over the last six months made 2020 the deadliest year ever for the Capital City with 128 homicides, according to a 3 On Your Side analysis of data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Murder Accountability Project and the Jackson Police Department.
Those 128 killings represent the highest number by far in the city’s recorded history, which eclipses 1995′s previous all-time record of 92, according to FBI data.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said in December that violent crime is up across the country.
“There has been a 40 to 50% increase in violent crime nationwide. Jackson just so happens to not have avoided that trend, as the rest of the nation hasn’t avoided that trend. We have to recognize all of the conditions which have led to it,” Lumumba said, like poverty and job loss.
Most other major cities in the U.S. with populations several times larger than Jackson have far smaller homicide rates, by comparison, though.
A 3 On Your Side analysis shows Jackson ranks second among 20 major U.S. cities, higher than Baltimore, Memphis and New Orleans.
The homicide rate here is almost three times higher than Chicago.
3 On Your Side analyzed each of 2020′s homicides and found the largest percentage — 33 percent — involved victims in their twenties.
One in 10 homicide victims last year was a teenager.
Eighteen of the city’s homicide victims were women, a substantial increase in recent years, according to data provided to WLBT by JPD through individual cases.
Most of these homicides -- 33 percent -- happened in Precinct 3, which is west of Interstate 55 and north of the Jackson Zoo.
Precinct 4, which encompasses northeast Jackson, once again had the fewest killings, representing only 15 percent.
Data compiled and maintained by 3 On Your Side suggests the uptick in Jackson’s killings appears to be tied to gun violence that has escalated since 2019.
In 2020, individual reports from JPD show 280 people were shot or killed over the course of the year, a 12 percent increase over the year before.
That means on average, someone was shot or killed in Jackson last year every 31 hours.
Lumumba said they’re doing what they can — with another recruit class beginning a few days into the new year — but officers can’t be everywhere.
“When somebody decides to shoot their wife in their home, an officer will not be there. When a domestic circumstance turns violent, an officer cannot always be there. No matter how many officers we have, when friends who have known each other for a long time or all their lives suddenly get into a dispute and just you know, the pressure of things are leading them to make permanent decisions for temporary problems,” Lumumba said in December. “And so we have to look at it in a complete and comprehensive fashion.”
Lumumba has talked about Strong Arms of Jackson and other groups working to address issues central to violent crime and hopefully stop crimes before they start.
It’s unclear what effect the mayor’s strategy may have had on those killings, though; Jackson’s homicide rate has continued to rise and once again stands as highest in the city’s history -- 79.69 per 100,000 people -- edging out previous all-time records set in 2018 and 2019.
In other words, the Capital City has maintained the highest rate of killings within its borders for three consecutive years.
At the same time, Jacksonians don’t have the full picture of how deadly 2020 actually was.
Jackson police sent information on 127 individual homicides to 3 On Your Side over the course of last year.
The killing of Cortez Shelby at Mbar in July wasn’t counted in JPD’s numbers because the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department worked that case, a spokesperson said.
WLBT counts Shelby’s killing as a Jackson homicide because it took place in the city.
Right now, JPD is reporting 129 homicides as of New Year’s Eve night, meaning there are two that they never sent to reporters, and by extension, never told the public about.