Charlotte’s staggering homicide rate: Is this year going to be better than the last?

Charlotte’s staggering homicide rate: Is this year going to be better than the last?
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120 people were murdered in Charlotte in 2020. Which is just under the 122 homicides reported in 1993, the city’s most violent year on record. 

  • What’s happening: While additional stressors created by the pandemic may be responsible for increased tension and conflict, there’s really no clear reason why the homicide rate was so high in 2020.
  • “I think it’s just people’s willingness to resort to a firearm over really minor things. It’s just that impulsive, short-term decision,” said CMPD Lt. Bryan Crum.

Be smart: You may have seen that the 1993 record was 129 homicides. That was actually the number at the end of that year, but in the time since CMPD has changed some of the cases to justified homicides with no charges filed.

  • 2020’s number has changed from 123 to 120 after three homicides were ruled justified, and it’s possible for this to happen to other cases.

Between the lines: CMPD says the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which tracks guns used in crimes across the country, has helped solve homicides and put violent, repeat offenders in prison. On a city level, the Safe Communities Committee is working on a few initiatives to lower violent crime as a whole, including a violence interrupter program.

  • Upward mobility and violent crime are connected. Initiatives to improve upward mobility, like the Corridors of Opportunity program, could also have a positive impact on violent crime rates.

Over the past couple of decades Charlotte’s homicide number has fluctuated.

Charlotte homicides 1990-2020.

Charlotte homicides 1990-2020.

Homicides per capita: Because Charlotte’s population has almost doubled since 1993, CMPD officials say the number of homicides per capita in 2020 decreased by about half.

COVID challenges: Unlike past years, in 2020 families facing the unexpected loss of loved ones also experienced pandemic-related job loss, and Covid-19 restrictions that keep them from properly grieving.

  • “It’s just unimaginable,” said Lisa Crawford from Mothers of Murdered Offspring, an organization that supports grieving families. “The grief and sorrow and tragedy and trauma that our families are going through… It’s heartbreaking.”

What they said: Last spring, I talked to Judy Williams, one of the founders of MOMO. Ms. Judy died this fall after a battle with cancer, but her words from our conversation still stick.

  • “Please, let’s find a way to get along during this time. Reach deep down inside of yourself and find a way to walk away from stupidity, because most of this is about nothing,” she said of senseless violence. “A person’s life has got to be more valuable than that.”

As we wrap up 2020 and all the highs, and the many, many, lows we faced, we want to honor those whose lives were cut short due to homicide this year. Here are their names, and a brief glimpse into their stories.

January 8: Devonne Lamonte Smith, 43. Smith, whose loved ones called him Snook, loved peanut butter and dogs.

January 11: Siojvon Joseph, 35. She was a mother and a nurse. She also sang in the choir at her church.

Asa Shannon, 35. Shannon was killed alongside his girlfriend, Siojvon Joseph. The two had recently moved in together.

January 14: Peyton Taylor, 5 months.

January 16: David Wayne Burns, 19.

January 24: Brad Gregory Kelly, 20.

February 2: Jacquez Keyshawn Moore, 19.

February 5: Juan Velázquez Hernández, 37. He was a father who enjoyed playing soccer.

February 16: Ramon Antonio Alvarado-Cubas, 32.

February 17: Zenita Graham, 30.

February 22: Chi-Liam Cody Brown-Erickson, 6 months.

February 28: Nathaniel Raul Newberry, 30. Newberry was a father and a veteran.

March 1: Demarcus Rashawn Mack, 25. Mack, whose family called him Shawn, was a CMS grad, a father, and a beloved family member and friend.

Van Thien Huynh, 55. Thien Huynh was a tax preparer who was survived by many customers and family members.

March 4: Rodarius Meaders, 22. Meaders is described as a great father who was a smart and talented young man.

March 9: Brianna Stephenson, 19. Stephenson was loved by many, including her parents, siblings, and extended family.

March 10: Lamar McNeil, 43. McNeil was a father and a husband. He was a business owner who had many hobbies including fashion and sports.

March 15: Antwon Risher, 19. 

March 16: Tevonte Laquan Epps, 24. A father with many hobbies. He was good at fixing cars, and two weeks before his death he’d just gotten a new one.

March 18: Monika Diamond, 34. Diamond was an event promoter, business owner, and LGBTQ community advocate.

Michael Anthony King, 25. King was loved by many including his parents, siblings, and extended family.

March 23: Tyree McIntyre, 20. McIntyre loved to play basketball.

March 28: Hector Cruz, 64.

Mario Racheim Reynolds, 37. Reynolds was described as having a contagious smile.

March 30: Mary Collins, 20. Her favorite food was sushi.

April 2: Reginald Deveaux, 16. Deveaux never met his son, who was born in September.

April 7: Qa’dir Avery Alverest, 17. Alverest was in 11th grade at Commonwealth High. He also had a job at Popeyes. He enjoyed football and spending time with his nieces and nephews.

April 8: Joshua Cox, 41. Cox had three daughters, who were the light of his world. He had many hobbies including fishing.

April 23: Li Y, 23. He had a large group of friends, many of whom described him as a jokester. He enjoyed making music.

April 24: Javion Sanders, 17. Sanders enjoyed spending time with his family and friends.

May 3: Brandi Anderson, 41. Brandi was a Cleveland Browns fan. He had a daughter and lots of extended family.

May 15: Cashona Tate, 39. Tate attended Morgan State University. She worked for American Airlines, but also had her own company.

May 18: Roman Kichigin, 15. Kichigin was a 10th grader at Union County Early College. He played cello and piano and participated with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.

May 23: Damario Tillman, 29. A U.S. Marine and a father of three. He was working on his master’s degree. He also volunteered at the Urban Ministry Center.

May 24: Marcel Harrington, 44. A father of six. He was a passionate barber and a talented artist.

June 3: Oscar Steele, 31. He enjoyed watching boxing.

June 6: Ahmad Kadir, 21. Kadir had recently secured a new job. His friends and family called him Ace.

June 9: Brian Quiros, 24.

June 10: Marcus Withers, 28. Withers was a barber.

June 12: Ray McLean, 27. McLean was a school bus driver and a father of two. He had his own lawn care business.

June 16: Tierra Watson, 28. Watson was the oldest of six.

June 21: Christopher Washington, 33. Washington was a drum player.

Tavarus Taybron, 24. Taybron had a close relationship with his father. He went to East Carolina University.

June 22: Jamaa Cassell, 39. Cassell was a single father of seven. He was described as a hard worker.

Christopher Gleaton Jr., 24. Gleaton was a talented rapper.

Kelly Miller, 29. Miller was a talented singer, rapper, and dancer.

Dairyon Stevenson, 31. Stevenson was a father of three. He loved to cook.

Aviana Carter, 21. Cater was a skilled nail tech. She was close with her family.

June 29: Lawrence Crank, 44. Crank was a father.

Channing Byers, 34. Byers was described as smart and quick to help others in need.

2020 homicide victims

A few of the 2020 homicide victims. Jontavius Hall (top far left), Emanuel Taylor (top left) , Wilma Petty (top right), Carlos Lopez (far right), Katie Eckerd (bottom far left), Jevon Ayala (bottom left), Keith River (bottom right), Calvin Washington (bottom far right).

June 30: Terreon Geter, 14. Geter’s family described him as a sweet kid who loved his family.

July 6: Jessie Hurley, 52. Hurley loved football.

July 9: Roscoe Wright, 57. Wright was an Army veteran and a father.

July 11: Allen Smith, 52. Smith had a large family including his wife, mother, two children, two grandchildren, 12 sisters, and two brothers, plus extended family.

July 12: Cory McKinney, 17.

Delvin Saymah Teah, 21. Teah loved sports.

July 16: Ferrell Bradley, 14. Brandley would’ve started high school in the fall.

Andrew McCullough, 23. McCullough was a dad.

July 18: Rahim Martin-Byrd, 25. His family remembers him as loving to tell jokes, rap, and dance.

July 21: Tykari Brown, 23. His loved ones called him Buna. He was a dad.

Katie Eckerd, 27. She enjoyed riding horses.

July 23: Michael Deseve, 48. Friends and family described him as a fun-loving prankster. He had two daughters.

July 24: Durrell Fuller, 35. His family and friends called him Tek.

July 25: Wilma Petty, 63. Petty loved watching cartoons and singing in church.

July 26: Jaquis Lowery, 23. Lowery enjoyed spending time with his family.

July 28: Keontez Stephens, 22. His loved ones called him Tez. He enjoyed watching and playing basketball.

July 29: Andre Boyd, 22. Boyd was especially close with his mom. Family members called him a jack of all trades.

August 1: Solomon Fleming, 22. He enjoyed football.

August 5: Jarele Blackson, 18. Blackson graduated from Butler High in the spring.

August 16: Kawon Hoover, 28. Hoover had a son and a daughter, and a great sense of humor.

Jawaun Pressley, 22. His loved ones called him Bam. He had one daughter.

Keith Rivera, 29.

August 18: Tyra McRae, 36. She was a mom and a substance abuse counselor.

Rafael Reyes, 37.

August 21: Zion Garcia, 20. His loved ones say he had a great smile.

August 22: Billy McKay, 35.

August 23: Sow Mue, 62. Her birthday was New Year’s Day.

September 4: Carlos Lopez, 19. Loved ones called him Los.

Deante Brown, 28. Loved ones called him D.

September 10: Beatrice Serrano, 32. Serrano was a popular tattoo artist.

September 27: Yahir Valdez, 17. He had two brothers, and he was the oldest.

September 30: Calvin Washington, 17.

October 1: Tyrone Stinson, 24.

October 5: Yazeed Al-sawalha, 20. He had a large community of family and friends.

October 9: Damond Brown, 47.

Kwame Pugh, 25. Pugh loved working on cars. He was also a competitive gymnast and won a state championship in pommel horse.

October 12: Aaron Shuford, 21. Loved ones called him AJ.

Ernest Lightner, 58.

October 13: Emanuel Dewayne Taylor, 41.

October 16: Stephen Robinson, 37.  Friends and family called him Bert.

October 19: Dondrake Blackmoore, 26. He had two sons.

Jakailah Jackson, 27. She was a makeup artist and a mom.

October 21: Jevon Ayala, 21. He had a job installing solar panels. His loved ones say his smile could light up any room.

October 24: O’Bryant Robinson, 22. He sang in his church’s youth choir as a kid.

October 27: Robert Darby, 30. He owned his own arcade. His loved ones called him a gentle giant.

October 28: Abel Harris, 41. Loved ones called him Abe.

October 30: Zuri Norman, 26. He played football at Fayetteville State University.

November 4: Ronnie Abram, 37.

November 6: Xavier Adams, 23. He was a dad.

November 7: Ruben Contreras, 16. He loved to tell jokes.

November 20: Joshua Clawson, 16. He had a great sense of humor.

November 26: Rory Montgomery, 60.

November 27: Davis Sanders, 42.

November 29: Richard Clarke, 48. He had two sons. He loved his alma mater, LSU.

November 30: Ricardo Zacarias-Perez, 46.

December 10: Joshua Sealy, 25.

December 12: Derreck Tyrell McDonald, 36.

December 13: Jontavius Demond Hall, 23.

Sharrieff Jones Jr., 17. Loved ones called him Lil Riff. He enjoyed football.

December 19: Daniel Vergara, 31.

December 21: Alejandro Arreola, 36. He had five children.

December 22: Laquintin Marquis McManus, 24. He would’ve turned 25 a week after his death.

Cinquay Jamario Farrer, 30. He was a father.

December 23: David Victor Bruce, 59.

Julia Rena McManus, 50.

December 24: Katherine Roxana Lopez Cruz, 16.

Michelle Avila Robles, 13.

December 28: Unidentified victim.

John Paul Cousar, 51.

December 29: Herbrea Labonnie Keels, 28.

Editor’s note: This story was last updated on January 25 to reflect 2020’s year-end homicide count.

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