RVA homicides exceed last year’s total count

Richmond's murder rate exceeded last year's with 3 months left in the year. (Photo by Sarah King)
Richmond's murder rate exceeded last year's with 3 months left in the year. (Photo by Sarah King)
Richmond’s murder rate exceeded last year’s with three months left in the year. Photo by Sarah King

James “Jimmy” Bishop was riding a lawnmower when he was shot and killed last Monday on Jefferson Davis Highway.

On Sep. 16, the murder rate exceeded last year’s total count of 41 homicides, with more than three months remaining in the year.

Bishop’s death was the 43rd in the city of Richmond this year, as the murder-rate continues to proliferate.

Bishop was one of three whose life was cut short by a bullet in the span of a week in Richmond. As of press time, the number of homicides in the River City was 45 for the year.

More than half of all homicides in Richmond this year have occurred in the Southside. Infographic by Rachel Lee

On Saturday, police discovered 41-year-old Anthony Mack, of Enslow Avenue, lying in the street suffering from an apparent gunshot wound on the 1000 block of St. Paul Street. Mack was taken to a local hospital where he died as a result of his injuries.

Less than 24 hours later,  22-year-old Petersburg resident Jarod Burford was found in his car on Midlothian Turnpike, where police believe he was shot. Burford was taken to the VCU Medical Center, where he later died.

According to Deputy Chief of the Richmond Police Department Steven Drew, the department has a 62 percent clearance rate.

Clearance is the term police use to describe cases ending with an arrest or where a suspect has been identified.

In 25 of the 45 homicide cases in Richmond, police made arrests. Seven of the remaining 20 cases have potential suspects.

“By the end of the year we hope to have a 90 percent clearance rate,” Drew said.

At this time last year, there had been 29 murders in Richmond and in the months of October, November and December there were a total of 12 homicides.

“Over the last ten years there has been a steady decline in homicides and violent crime,” Drew said. “But you sometimes see an increase, it starts to turn. We have to look at where crime is happening. Is it in the same community? What are their motives?”

There are five common situations that end in homicides, according to the Richmond Police: domestic violence, neighborhood disputes, street robberies, drug dealers versus drug dealers and drugs dealers versus drug buyers.

“Look at robberies and shootings when there is a spike in homicides,” Drew said. “People don’t want to talk to the police, they want retaliation.”

Richmond’s homicide rate has steadily dropped since 1994, when it reached peak levels. Infographic by Rachel Lee

To help lower the violent crime rates over the summer, Richmond police partnered with state officers to initiate the Fugitive Firearm Initiative to lower the amount of firearms on the street. In total 187 firearms were confiscated.

Drew said a majority of the firearms confiscated were connected to illegal activity and convicted felons.

On Oct. 1, Richmond Police will launch the “Fall Violent Crime Reduction Initiative,” which will look focus on reducing crime in the two most crime ridden neighborhoods of four different precincts throughout the city.

The assigned officers were chosen on Thursday. The program will last for six to eight weeks, and will end around Thanksgiving-time.

“This is not just to make arrests,” Drew said. “It is to spread community awareness.”

Hannah Parker, Contributing Writer

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