Chicago, Louisville Among 20 U.S. Cities Seeing 50% Homicide Rate Increases

Homicide rates for 2020 have soared in at least 20 cities across the United States, with Louisville, Chicago, St. Louis and Indianapolis recording double-digit increases over 2019.

Dozens of U.S. cities are set to record their highest-ever yearly homicide rates as Midwest metropolitan areas including Chicago, Indianapolis and Louisville have seen murders increase by at least 40 percent. As of last week, Louisville has seen a 78 percent surge in homicides versus the same period in 2019. Kentucky's largest city is on track to make 2020 its deadliest year in recent history, as is Indianapolis. Data compiled by University of Missouri-St. Louis researchers in August showed a 53 percent increase in homicide rates across 20 cities nationwide.

Nearly all of America's largest cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle, have recorded far more homicides involving firearms. Chicago counted 3,304 shooting victims, including non-fatal incidents, as of October 11—1,120 more people than were shot in 2019. Louisville has seen a 109 percent year-over-year increase in shootings, including non-fatal incidents.

For the year Chicago has reported 614 homicides as of last week, marking a 50 percent increase from 2019.

But many smaller U.S. cities are undergoing one of the worst years in recent history, too, as revealed by homicide rate percentages in terms of population size.

St. Louis has recorded a 31.25 percent increase over the city's 160 homicides in 2019. It has the highest homicide rate in the U.S. given its smaller population of around 300,000 residents. There are nearly 70 homicides in St. Louis for every 100,000 people. Indianapolis last week recorded 187 homicides this year, 160 of which are considered murders, which is a 43 percent increase over last year. And Columbus, Ohio, recorded its 160th homicide on October 11, pushing it to 45 percent above 2019.

Law enforcement and criminology experts across the country have been unable to pinpoint any specific, single motive behind the homicide rise, although gun violence is the overwhelming method of murder. Homicides tied to burglaries, drug disputes and domestic violence incidents are all up year-over-year in 20 of the country's largest cities.

"This dynamic is playing out in every metro in the nation no matter the demographic of residents, the party in charge or the state the city calls home," Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett told the Indianapolis Star last week, after the city surged past its all-time criminal homicide record. "Nevertheless, it is clear that Indianapolis faces its own individual struggle with deadly violence."

An overwhelming percentage of homicides in each of the country's largest 20 cities are centered around only a handful of neighborhoods and see a majority of victims being Black males. In St. Louis, a majority of the city's 156 victims recorded as of September, were Black men and boys. As of last week, police said they have suspects in just 69 cases, and most were Black males. In Los Angeles, which is seeing a 25 percent homicide rate increase, more than 100 of the murders took place in South Los Angeles alone.

In Seattle, the city already matched its 2019 homicide total by the end of August, putting Kings County on track for one of its deadliest in years.

Newsweek reached out for comment from several police stations but did not receive replies by the time of publishing.

chicago police homicide rate midwest
Chicago Police officers and bystanders stand near yellow and red crime scene tape where a man was shot in the head as he sat in a vehicle on the 2600 block of West Luther Street on November 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago is on pace to see over 700 homicides before the year ends with over 3,000 shootings since the beginning of the year JOSHUA LOTT /AFP/Getty Images