ST. LOUIS (AP) — The number of homicides in St. Louis has already topped last year's 194 killings, putting the city on track to have a notably high homicide rate.
St. Louis has seen a huge spike in homicides since June, despite numerous efforts to curb the violence. During June, July and August, 114 homicides were reported in the city, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“Since June 1, our numbers began to rise at the alarming rate,” said police Lt. Scott Aubuchon, the homicide unit’s commander since 2018. “We’ve never seen anything like the last three months. These are indescribable times.”
St. Louis typically averages 50 homicides in the last four months of the year. If that projection holds true, the city will see about 240 homicides in 2020, which would be the highest number in 25 years.
The highest number of killings in a single year in St. Louis was 267 in 1993, which gave the city a homicide rate of 69 per 100,000 people. Because the city of St. Louis has lost population, this year's homicide rate is projected to be 79 per 100,000 residents.
By comparison, Cincinnati, which has a similar-sized population to St. Louis, had a homicide rate last year of 24 per 100,000 residents, according to FBI statistics. Another similar-sized city, Pittsburgh, had a homicide rate of 12 per 100,000.
Officials say it is difficult to determine what is behind the increase in violence in St. Louis partly because most of the homicides in the city remain unsolved. Aubuchon said there has been a variety of motives in the killings that have been solved.
“It’s important to remember that behind these numbers are real lives,” St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a statement. “Someone’s daughter, son, father, mother, brother, sister. And as a city, we care deeply about them and their families who’ve been devastated by this senseless violence."