Gun-Related Crimes Are Rising in Los Angeles

March 4, 2021 Updated: March 4, 2021

LOS ANGELES—In the first two months of this year, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers fielded 570 reports of shots fired, up 88 percent from the 303 incidents during same time frame in 2020—and 267 people were hit by gunfire, a 141 percent increase from the 111 people wounded in the time frame in 2020, it was reported today.

And homicides in Los Angeles are also up, according to Crosstown, a nonprofit news organization based out of the USC Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, in partnership with the Integrated Media Systems Center at the Viterbi School of Engineering, which covers the neighborhoods of Los Angeles through data.

Through Feb. 27 of this year, 64 people had been killed in the city, an increase of 39 percent from the 46 homicides at the same time last year, Crosstown reported.

“We continue to struggle with homicides and shooting violence,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Los Angeles Police Commission on Feb. 23, adding, “We have a concern about the level of violence that is still ahead of last year.”

The shootings come as the city has experienced a nearly 26 percent drop in overall crime during the first two months of the year. But the rise in gun violence is causing concern among community members and police, especially in the South Bureau.

LAPD Deputy Chief Regina Scott, commanding officer of LAPD Operations-South Bureau, told the Police Commission that through Feb. 13, the bureau had recorded a 165 percent increase in shots fired and a 358 percent spike in victims shot while walking down the street or sitting in cars or homes.

“If you compare South L.A. to the rest of the city, we represent 65 percent of the city’s shooting victims,” Scott said at the Feb. 23 meeting. “In just six weeks, we’ve had 110 victims shot compared with just 24 last year. These are numbers we haven’t seen since the late nineties or early 2000s.”

Community leaders are clamoring for assistance in combating the growing number of struggles, including everything from the need for food assistance, housing insecurity, and violence.

Andres Ruiz, an attorney and public safety chair for the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, expressed concern over the 46 percent rise in shots fired in the area—19 this year, up from 13 in 2020. He said he sees the increase in crime as a call for help.

“We are living in an era where people don’t know how they are going to pay their bills, facing eviction and hunger, and individuals resort to survival tactics,” Ruiz said, stressing he was speaking for himself, and not the council.

“We need to understand what is going on in neighborhoods to understand how to help heal the community so these issues aren’t happening.”

Skipp Townsend, executive director of 2nd Call, a gang intervention nonprofit, told the Police Commission that intervention workers can facilitate meetings and allow people to discuss their grievances. He added that they also teach young people how to deal with their emotions so they don’t respond to violence with more violence.

“I believe it takes the community to save the community,” Townsend said at the Police Commission meeting. “I found that the healing process hasn’t started, but it’s hard to heal when it’s constantly occurring every day.”