With one week to go in 2021, Memphis pushes past 2020 homicide record

·1 min read
People gather for a vigil in honor of 16-year-old Breunna Woods at Mississippi River Park on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. Woods, a cheerleader at Wooddale High School, was killed on Friday night after a high school basketball game when the car that she and other students were riding in was ambushed at a gas station, according to police reports.
People gather for a vigil in honor of 16-year-old Breunna Woods at Mississippi River Park on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. Woods, a cheerleader at Wooddale High School, was killed on Friday night after a high school basketball game when the car that she and other students were riding in was ambushed at a gas station, according to police reports.

Memphis, in line with many major cities in the U.S., is in the throes of heightened violence — spurred by myriad factors with pandemic and non-pandemic origins.

On Thursday, Memphis police reported 333 homicides, meaning the city has officially passed the grim record set in 2020 of 332 homicides. Of those 333 homicides occurring this year — 292 are classified as murders.

The remainder of the deaths fall into categories such as justified homicides or instances of negligent manslaughter.

Within the record number includes a subset of at least 29 youth under 18-years-old killed both intentionally and through negligence.

The year has included the familiar rush for explanations and solutions from both public and private entities and elected officials; the county's top prosecutor, Amy Weirich, and the city's recently appointed police Chief C.J. Davis have held community forums where they've explained the limitations of their roles and pleaded for more community involvement.

New initiatives meant to relocate witnesses to a safe location away from any offender they report to police have been established.

Within communities hardest hit by gun violence, pastors have encouraged their communities to stop protecting those that would take a life.

And, grassroots organizations like Memphis Artists for Change have started hosting trauma-and-race informed de-escalation workshops.

In spite of these measures, and with the assistance of Tennessee laws that top law enforcement officials say makes gun access all too easy — the rate of violent deaths in Memphis has persisted.

And, as of Thursday, slightly accelerated.

The Commercial Appeal has reached out to Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Amy Weirich and Memphis police Chief C.J.Davis for comment. This story will be updated.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis breaks 2020 homicide record with 333 deaths in 2021

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