HOUSTON – Homicide rates are rising once again across the country after last year’s spike, and Houston is faring worse than the largest U.S. cities.
Four homicides in Houston in the last 24-hours have brought the total this year to 199, a 35% increase over 2020.
Compare that to only a 5% increase in homicides so far over last year in Chicago, a 17% increase in New York and a 23% increase in Los Angeles.
The total number of homicides is also higher in Houston than in Los Angeles, a city with nearly twice the population. It’s also higher than New York City, a city of more than eight million people.
“It requires a city-wide, holistic, comprehensive approach,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on Wednesday in City Council when asked about the crime wave.
“You cannot piecemeal that. Now certainly, HPD is in the best position to move its resources around. But they are limited resources,” he added.
The latest slaying in Houston happened at an apartment complex along the 7000 block of Bellfort Street in southeast Houston. One man died from a gunshot wound.
Also on Wednesday, a man was found dead in northeast Houston, another downtown, and a fourth in southwest Houston. HPD said he was shot to death while pumping gas.
“It’s not any one person’s responsibility,” the mayor said in an interview. “It’s a community responsibility. It’s not even the responsibility of just law enforcement, it’s all of us playing a part.”
Pandemic-related delays in courthouses have contributed to the rise in crime, he said, adding that the backlog in Harris County is up to 100,000.
“I mean think about that, 100,000 cases backlog, waiting to go through the criminal justice system,” said the mayor. “There are a number of people who are out on our streets who quite frankly shouldn’t be, OK?”
He also pointed to increases in gang-related activity, domestic violence and road rage shootings, and added that “there are too many guns on the streets.”
“I’m optimistic, I’m confident, that by everybody working together, we will get our arms around this situation and the crime will come down,” he concluded.