A custody exchange in Los Angeles ended with a father of three in critical condition with gunshot wounds and a suspect in custody on charges of attempted murder.
Three children witnessed the terrifying incident, which took place in the L.A. suburb of Grenada Hills on April 22, according to Fox 11, citing Officer Jeff Lee of the Los Angeles Police Department.
The seven-year-old son of the victim reportedly covered his father’s bullet holes with his hands in an attempt to stem the flow of blood.
The 37-year-old victim, who was not named in the report, was rushed to hospital.
Investigators cited in the report say he is not expected to survive.
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) April 23, 2019
Police identified the suspect as 29-year-old Ernesto Lopez, said to be the current boyfriend of the children’s mother.
The victim was picking up his children from his ex-girlfriend at around 8 p.m. at a residence at Chatsworth Street, Fox 11 reported, when he and the woman got into a verbal dispute.
At one point during the argument, the father took note of his ex-girlfriend’s current boyfriend, Lopez, who was sitting in a nearby car.
The father rammed the boyfriend’s car, at which point Lopez allegedly took out a gun and shot him several times.
The children were unharmed in the incident, according to the Daily Mail. They have been taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family services.
Police identified emotional turmoil following a failed relationship between the victim and the ex-girlfriend as a possible factor in the incident.
Facts About Crime in the United States
Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.
The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.
“From 1993 to 2017, the rate of violent victimization declined 74 percent, from 79.8 to 20.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older,” the U.S. Department of Justice stated.
Both studies are based on data up to and including 2017, the most recent year for which complete figures are available.
The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.
While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend.
Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an Epoch Times analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.
The property crime rate fell by 50 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI, and by 69 percent according to BJS.
According to the FBI’s preliminary figures for the first half of 2018, property crime rates in the United States dropped by 7.2 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.
As with violent crime, the FBI survey only takes into account crime reported to the police, while the BJS figures include reported and nonreported crime.
Public Perception About Crime
Despite falling long-term trends in both violent crime and property crime, opinion surveys repeatedly show Americans believe that crime is up.
The vast majority of Gallup polls taken since 1993 show that over 60 percent of Americans believe there is more crime in the United States on a national scale compared to the previous year.
Pew Research Surveys show similar findings. A survey in late 2016 revealed that 57 percent of registered voters said crime in the nation as a whole increased since 2008, despite both FBI and BJS data showing double-digit drops in violent and property crimes.
Perceptions differed on a national versus local level.
Surveys of perceptions of crime levels on a local scale showed that fewer than 50 percent of respondents in every single Gallup survey done since 1996 believed that crime in their area had risen compared to the previous year.