Savannah's homicide rate highest since early 90's

Savannah's homicide rate highest since early 90's
Published: Dec. 9, 2015 at 8:59 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 8, 2016 at 9:23 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As we all know, homicide numbers are up in Savannah this year.

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Assistant Chief Julie Tolbert said in a news conference Tuesday that the homicide rate is the highest it's been since the early 90's.

We are taking a closer look at the most recent homicides, asking police leaders what the public should be taking away from that information.

Police say the majority of homicides, which include domestic situations, fights and a multitude of other scenarios, involve firearms and are the types of crimes that the End Gun Violence: Step Forward initiative is looking to stop. But, in cases of domestic violence, the Chief says the community and police need to take a closer look to better identify opportunities to prevent it from happening.

"We have got to do something different as a community and police with domestic violence, in order to reduce that number. It's typically four or five per-year, as opposed to 13 or 14, and we have not ended this year," said Chief Jack Lumpkin, SCMPD.

Since the beginning of last month, there have been nearly two-dozen shootings. Of those, 10 were fatal. Breaking that number down, one was ruled accidental and another justifiable, or in self-defense.

One murder suspect has since turned himself in, while in another incident, 18-year-old Johnathan Gibbs, is still on the loose.

Two homicides over the past month have involved domestic violence, ending in murder suicides. It's a trend Chief Lumpkin says is alarmingly high.

Of the 56 homicides on record this year, 14 have stemmed from situations involving domestic violence. Five of those 14 were children.

"Are we as a community and police missing something? Were there ways to intervene that family members could have gotten services for the individuals, the victims, or the offender, that might have prevented a homicide? That's what we are going to have to ask ourselves," said Chief Lumpkin.

Following the shooting death of woman in the Savannah Gardens area last week, Savannah Safe Shelter Director, Cheryl Branch, said she's going to be working more closely and publicly with the District Attorney's office to let people know that domestic violence is very much an issue here in Savannah.

"The numbers are out of range significantly on domestic homicides. We've had five children die this year, and those were family members actually involved in the death of those children," said the Chief.

Chief Lumpkin says he will be breaking down crime statistics for city council members on Thursday, to give them a clearer picture of what the city is up against.

"The category of domestic violence is leading; then we also have a category of acquaintances that know each other, and arguments occur that are settled with a gun," he said.

The chief says the 14 domestic homicides this year equal the total number of domestic homicides from the previous four years combined.

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