Homicide: By the numbers

Doug Smith and Joel Rubin (LA Times)
January 26, 2010

The maps on the newly designed LA Times Homicide Report confirm many widely accepted truisms about killing in the county that have long shaped Angelenos’ assumptions about who dies and where.

Put simply, since 2007 most murder victims have been young, Latino and black men living in a broad corridor that runs down either side of the Harbor Freeway from downtown Los Angeles to the Century Freeway and then bends eastward into Compton. It is a violent stretch with no formal boundaries and, thus, no official death toll, but there have been about 700 killings from 2007 through 2009, according to the Homicide Report. Significant pockets of fatalities also occurred in the San Fernando Valley and Long Beach.

Latinos are killed in greater numbers than all other races combined, accounting for 1,367, or 52%, of 2,604 county homicides recorded since 2007. Black people are killed at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the county, making up more than 30% of the homicide victims and less than 10% of the county population. And homicide is overwhelmingly a phenomenon of young men, with 85% of all victims men and nearly four of every 10 victims between the ages of 17 and 25. Guns were used in almost three-quarters of all killings during the period.

Overall, the number of people killed has declined considerably each year, from 938 victims in 2007 to 746 last year.

No region of the county has escaped untouched from killing, but L.A. is a county of sharp disparities, where there is either much killing or hardly any at all. In more affluent areas — Malibu, Santa Monica, the Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills, Granada Hills and elsewhere — lone red dots on the Homicide Report map represent murders that often made headlines because of where they occurred. In the violent areas, maps look to be covered with a pox.

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