Homicides in Houston are the highest they’ve been in at least 6 years

A crime scene investigator photographs a homicide scene outside a convenience store in the 2700 block of Alabama Street in Houston on Nov. 9, 2020. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – The number of homicides reported in Houston this year is the highest since at least 2015.

Data from the Houston Police Department showed the number of homicides reported in 2020 in the city is at 345. That number includes six homicides that happened Monday. The death of Houston police Sgt. Sean Rios is among them.

While there are still 51 days left in the year, data from HPD showed the number of homicides in Houston is 110 higher than at the same time last year. The number is also higher than any year since at least 2015.

Joe Gamaldi, of the Houston Police Officers Union, said 2020′s number is approaching the most homicides in two decades -- 377 were reported in 2005. He said we could approach 400 homicides by the end of the year.

“You’d have to go back to the 1980s to find numbers like that in Houston,” Gamaldi said.

Over the past six years, the lowest number of homicides reported in Houston was 269 in 2017.

What’s driving the increase?

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that while he cannot say for certain what is causing the increase in homicides this year, he believes the stress of the pandemic could be responsible.

“We can certainly note that these are unprecedented times, that there is a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress,” Turner said. “People are going through a lot. There’s no question about that.”

“When you look at the numbers this year, the numbers are exponentially higher,” Turner added. “The one factor that exists in 2020 that didn’t exist in 2019 or 18 or 17 or 16, and that’s COVID-19.”

Turner called the trend “disturbing” asked the community for help to curb the violence and bring closure to the families of victims.