Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Snapshot of a Year in Homicide

Today's Pioneer Press devoted two pages to listing every person killed by homicide in the east metro last year (Ramsey, Dakota, and Washington counties; about half are from St. Paul). Reading through the entries I wondered how the people shown (and how they died) added up. So here are some basic numbers to quantify these sad events.

37 dead: 27 male, 10 female.

0 - 10: 3
11 - 17: 1
18 - 30: 17 (46 percent)
31 - 45: 9
46 - 60: 5
61+: 2

Race and ethnicity
White: 11
Black: 15
Asian: 4
Native American: 1

This totals to just 31 people; there was no photo or sufficient textual indication for the other 6 people to determine race/ethnicity (4 men, 2 women). There appeared to be no Latino homicide victims, though two Latinos have been charged in one of the murders.

Of the white people, 6 were female and 5 were male. Of the black people, only 1 was female; 14 were male. The Asian people were 1 female and 3 male (two were very young children).

The 14 black men died from a wide range of causes:
Unknown: 2 (still unsolved)
Cop: 1
Domestic violence: 2 killed by a female intimate partner, one killed by his elderly father
Stupid fight, either directly or as a bystander: 4
Drive-by shooting: 2 (more details below)
Drug-related: 1 (more details below)

Shot: 23
Stabbed: 7
Beaten or blunt force trauma: 5
Suffocation: 2


Domestic violence claimed by far the most lives: 12 (8 women or girls killed by 7 men, 4 men killed by 3 women and 1 man)
The 3 men killed by women were all stabbed, two in unclear circumstances. 1 man was shot by his elderly father, who had dementia. Five of the women or girls were shot; 1 was stabbed; 1 suffocated and stabbed; 1 beaten.

Cops killed 3 men; a security guard at a nightclub killed 1 man, which was ruled justifiable. All of those killed by the cops or the guard were shot. 1 white, 1 black, and 1 Native American shot by police; one Asian shot by the security guard. Only the white guy had a gun in his hands (and was wearing an armored vest). The other three ranged from completely unarmed to possibly having a screw driver to driving a car in a threatening way.

2 children died from beating or suffocation, 1 killed by a babysitter (mother charged with neglect), the other by his mother

4 people were killed in what are clearly random circumstances
2 more people may have been killed in random circumstances, but the cases are not solved yet.
2 people were killed at bars while others were fighting, so not quite random, but close.

5 other people died during a fight over something stupid (3 shot, 2 stabbed)

2 men died in what were probably drive-by gang shootings; 1 had been involved in a gang, while the other was attending a vigil about a past gang killing (he died pushing children out of the way of danger)

3 people died because they were involved in selling marijuana, 2 during a sale and 1 when burglars tried to rob his home, knowing that he sold pot

1 teenager was shot while trying to rob someone at gunpoint (he had the bad luck to accost a "good guy with a gun")

1 vulnerable adult was beaten to death by a person he was allowing to live in his house.

Mental illness

Mental illness features prominently in several of the descriptions:

  • All 4 of the people killed by cops had histories of mental illness. 
  • 1 65-year-old man was shot by his 90-year-old father, who suffered from dementia.
  • 1 domestic violence case, in which a 35-year-old grandson killed his grandmother, included mention of the killer hearing voices telling him to kill her
  • 1 mother who killed her child also tried to kill herself and was found mentally incompetent to stand trial
Final thoughts
  • If guns somehow magically disappeared, almost two-thirds (62 percent) of these people might be alive.
  • If marijuana was legal, 3 of these people would probably be alive.
  • Men shoot other people; women don't.

No comments: