Los Angeles

LA's Staggering Murder Rate Linked to Gang Shootings and Violence Against Homeless

The department is reorganizing and shutting-down specialized units to absorb a $150-million defunding budget cut as it struggles to respond to street violence.

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LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Monday the city has counted its 302nd murder in 2020 as the result of a steady increase in street violence since the summer, when long-running gang feuds reignited, leaving dozens dead and injured.

"I'm very, very concerned, it's a 25% increase in homicides, it's a 30% increase in shooting victims," Moore said.

Los Angeles has ended recent years with far fewer than 300 murders, and the increase in street violence has run against an overall crime reduction during the first half of 2020.

At least five people were shot to death over the weekend ending Nov. 22, including a 17 year old killed while riding a motorcycle in the LAPD's Southeast Division and an 80-year-old woman murdered in the Northeast Division.

At least 25 others survived being shot, and Moore said much of the violence appears unprovoked and inexplicable.

"When we looked at people that are being shot, and those who are losing their life, they're people within our poorest communities, the communities that are already been impacted tremendously by this pandemic," he said.

"We're seeing gang involvement, we're seeing street gangs in street violence, many times over," he said. "Little petty matters and and just the sense of chaos that is in some of these communities."

An old gang feud in South Los Angeles was blamed by LAPD officials for a cycle of retaliatory attacks in August, September, and October. Some of the more recent shootings may be linked to those exchanges.

Gang intervention workers told NBC4's I-Team they've had difficulty reaching the family and friends of shooting victims because of coronavirus access restrictions at hospitals. Interventionists said reaching families and friends in the minutes and hours after an act of violence was key to preventing an escalation.

Moore told the LA Police Commission last week that aside from the gang-related violence a growing number of murder victims this year were homeless.

"Homicides involving persons experiencing homelessness as a victim has now grown to 19%," Moore said,

"This is a population that is gravely at risk, not only from from the criminal element, people who wish to prey on them, but also within the homeless, others within the homeless community as well."

The city counted its 300th murder about a day after Moore finalized plans to reorganize the LAPD in order to accommodate a $150-million "defunding" budget cut ordered by the Mayor and City Council.

Moore directed that a number of investigative units be closed and others downsized, in order to put the maximum number of officers back into patrol roles at neighborhood police stations.

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