Aug 1, 2023 - News

Columbus homicides are trending up in 2023

Data: Columbus Division of Police; Chart: Axios Visuals

Homicides in Columbus are trending higher than this time last year, but aren't on track to eclipse 2021's record level of violence, per a report the Columbus Division of Police provided to Axios.

Why it matters: The city's 204 total homicides in 2021 were largely viewed as a pandemic-fueled outlier, especially as crime declined in 2022.

  • If this pace keeps up, 2023 could be our second-most-violent year on record.

The big picture: The increase comes as homicide rates in 30 U.S. cities dropped an average of 9.4% in the first half of 2023, Axios' Ivana Saric reports.

Zoom in: An overwhelming majority of all 2023 homicides in Columbus (88%) were committed with firearms.

  • As of yesterday, 63 homicide cases have been solved this year, out of 91 total investigations, according to police data.

Meanwhile, felonious assaults are also up, with 870 to date, compared to 796 in 2022 and 932 in 2021.

  • Homicides and assaults generally follow similar patterns, assistant Chief Greg Bodker tells Axios.

The intrigue: Domestic violence is contributing to the increases, with domestic felonious assaults spiking from 37 cases all last year to 172 so far this year.

  • That includes at least 40 strangulation cases, after a new state law took effect in April making strangulation a felony offense.
  • Columbus police have reported 16 domestic violence homicides this year, which Bodker says "jumps off the page" because it's already nine higher than in all of 2022.

Eye-popping stats: As of yesterday, police have seized 1,995 illegal guns this year, an average of nearly 10 a day.

  • They have recovered 51 Glock switches, an illegal device that turns a handgun into a more dangerous automatic weapon. That's compared to 17 recovered all of last year.

What we're watching: What other city leaders are doing to address gun violence.

  • Last week, the mayor and City Council members hosted a Statehouse rally alongside two Democratic state lawmakers calling for "common-sense gun regulation."
  • Council passed stricter local regulations in December but Attorney General Dave Yost is challenging the ordinance in court.
  • In recent weeks, the city has invested $500,000 toward End the Violence, an intervention program, and $66,000 for a pilot contract with local nonprofit Think Make Live Youth to host weekly teen talks about gun violence.
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