Thirty-six hours after Kevin Schmidt reported a stray bullet had pierced the trunk of his '56 Chevy, another shooting occurred at the same Springfield location.
Schmidt and his young son were traveling down Glenstone Avenue on Aug. 13 on their way to the Route 66 Festival, uninvolved with what appeared to be a road-rage incident near Grand Street.
Subsequent gunfire the following evening near the Glenstone and Grand intersection led to an arrest.
Neither of the unrelated cases resulted in injury, but the proximity highlighted an unsavory Queen City trend: increasing gun violence.
Springfield Police said they responded to 261 confirmed "shots fired" calls from January through August, including 51 that resulted in injuries and a dozen homicides.
With four more months of data ahead, this year's tally of reported shootings could rank among the city's highest.
After two of the deadliest years in Springfield history — there were 28 killings in 2020 and 26 in 2021, most the result of gun violence — the rate of homicides has decreased in 2022, with 14 as Sept. 30.
Relative to the 2008-2019 time frame, when Springfield averaged 11 homicides a year, it's still a concerning pace for many area residents.
"I was born and raised here, and it wasn't nearly this bad growing up," said Cavin Loderhose, whose brother, Colin Loderhose, was shot and killed this summer confronting a suspected thief inside his store, Anchor Tactical Supply.
"You would hear about these kinds of things here and there, but not like it has been."
Springfield police chief says gun violence is 'our No. 1 problem'
Dressed in a gray suit as he spoke to City Council in August, Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams broke down various categories of crime.
He pointed to decreases in overall crime compared to 2021, including in the categories of burglary and shoplifting. Much of the chief's presentation had a positive tone until he pivoted to an issue that continues to be a major concern for his department.
"Having said all of that, I am going to point to what continues to be our No. 1 problem: gun violence," Williams said. "The number of shots fired calls continues to go up. Our shots fired calls are already more than we had for all of 2019."
There were 227 shots fired calls in all of 2019. The total spiked to to 337 in 2020, and 294 in 2021. The total for the first two-thirds of 2022 was already at 261.
"Those are not good numbers, and that's the one thing that continues to increase," Williams said. "The amount of gun fire and the amount of folks getting hurt is increasing."
Williams believes those numbers are fueled by access to and availability of guns, in part due to thefts from irresponsible gun owners.
The strength of Missouri's gun laws rank among the lowest in the country (47th) according to a Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence report.
"(We want to) decrease the amount of gun violence and encourage responsible gun ownership for the folks that want to have guns, need to have guns, desire to have guns, but don't keep them secure and use them properly," Williams said.
Rising gun violence is a national trend
The rise in gun violence certainly isn't unique to Springfield.
Across the United States, cities have recorded an increased number of gun-related homicides since the 2020 pandemic and the social and political strife that followed the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a host of problems, not limited to increased narcotics use, financial insecurity and endemic mental illness. Studies have also correlated the pandemic to an increase in domestic violence.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, national firearm homicides grew by 35% from 2019 to 2020.
Drug use has also been a long-running problem in Springfield. With the nationwide expansion of fentanyl and methamphetamine markets, illegal guns often come into play.
Since 2015, Springfield police have seized more than 1,300 illegal guns, including more than 140 this year.
"That's a lot to be taking off the street for a city Springfield's size," said Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis.
Many of those guns were stolen from legal gun owners in Springfield, a town where stolen property offenses doubled this year, according to Williams' presentation to council.
"Nearly all firearms on the street were at one point purchased legally," Rosenfeld told the News-Leader.
Rosenfeld pointed to a decline in homicides in St. Louis this year, which aligns with Springfield's trend, though Kansas City is reportedly experiencing an increase.
Rosenfeld has long researched the correlation between crime and macroeconomics and has tied inflation to increases in crime.
Springfield isn't immune to recent inflation surges, which has left many residents in tougher financial circumstances.
"With high inflation rates, there's upticks in violence," Rosenfeld said.
Writing in an academic journal, Rosenfeld previously summed up the idea like this: "As prices rise, the demand for cheap stolen goods grows, which strengthens incentives to increase the supply of stolen merchandises. Property crime rates increase. Violent crimes also increase as transactions multiply in 'stateless' locations beyond the purview of formal authorities."
When tragedy strikes
Many of Springfield's shootings appear to involve victims and assailants who knew each other. They cover a wide spectrum of circumstances, often involving drug-related encounters and domestic disputes.
The death of Colin Loderhose was a much different case.
Loderhose, 25, was on his morning work shift at Anchor Tactical Supply on July 6 when he noticed two men had returned after allegedly stealing a gun from the store the previous day.
According to court records, Loderhose confronted the men, took their photos and kicked them out of the South Campbell Avenue store.
One of the men, Zachary Cano, pulled a gun from his waistband during the confrontation, according to court records, before shooting Loderhouse three times at close range. Loderhose succumbed to his injuries.
Cano, 20, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, allegedly telling detectives "This isn't my first murder." Police seized several guns from his vehicle.
Cavin Loderhose, 32, said Cano's pride ultimately killed his brother. They had no previous relationship.
"A lot of these criminals just aren't scared of the repercussions," he said. "Guns don't kill people, people do, and they need to be charged to the fullest extent of the law.
"It starts at the top, the courts and the judges."
Cavin left Springfield for the Marines in 2010 and returned in 2017. When he returned, he said he immediately noticed more violent crime.
Because of the surge in shootings and the recent passing of his brother, Cavin is more wary than ever.
"When you go to the store, it's in the back of your mind that someone might be there for bad reasons," Cavin said.
It has also made him hyper-aware of other families who have experienced similar tragedies.
"I can put those shoes on my feet. I know what that mother, aunt, or sister is going through. I've lived it now."
Where shootings happen
Williams has said in previous news interviews that he believes Springfield is a safe town, where random attacks and gang activity are still considered rare.
But some sections of town are clearly more prone to gun activity than others, according to the police department's data that tracks shooting locations.
According to 2020 and 2021 data, the vast majority of Springfield shootings happen in the central and northern sections of town, between Sunshine and Kearney streets.
The highest concentrations of shootings in that area area appear to be north of Chestnut Expressway, portions of the West Central neighborhood, and near South Campbell in the downtown area.
Stats can be misleading
When highly publicized shootings occur in Springfield, many residents take to social media to compare the Queen City's troubles to those of much larger cities.
Websites using FBI data have also listed Springfield among the "most dangerous" in the country, per capita, often giving more buzz than context.
While Springfield has its share of gun-related and property theft problems, they're nowhere near those of many large and mid-sized cities in the region.
St. Louis metro police recorded more than 700 shots fired calls on New Year's Eve of 2021 alone, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Springfield had 294 shots fired reports for the entire year.
Springfield's tally of 26 homicides in 2021, while above average for its population of roughly 171,000 residents , was dwarfed by St. Louis (195) and Kansas City (155). Little Rock, Arkansas (64), Tulsa, Oklahoma (62), and Wichita, Kansas (54) also had much deadlier years. Knoxville, Tennessee, which has a population of 190,000 residents, reported 40 homicides in 2021.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Shootings in Springfield aren't slowing down: 'Our No. 1 problem'