Sacramento County recorded 77 homicides last year, continuing a modest but consistent decline in violent deaths locally in recent years, according to preliminary statistics.
Unlike other areas nationwide that saw historic lows in 2013, the county’s totals still did not match those of 2009, when homicides were at their lowest in at least a decade – 70 – and the city of Sacramento saw a 26-year low of 30 homicides.
The majority of homicide victims in 2013 – at least 64 percent – died as the result of gun violence, according to The Sacramento Bee’s records. The next most common cause of death, found in almost one-fifth of the cases, was related to blunt force trauma.
More than a quarter of the county’s homicides involved people between the ages of 10 and 24, the typical age range used when examining youth violence. Eighteen of those 20 cases involved guns and violence that were not domestic in nature – in other words, street violence.
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Another seven victims were under the age of 10, several of whom died at the hands of people known to them.
Counted in the tally are homicides that are expected to be reported to the FBI as part of the national Uniform Crime Reporting program. The numbers do not reflect fatal officer-involved shootings or justifiable homicides, such as those determined to be the result of self-defense.
Several cases included in the tally are still awaiting a coroner’s report to confirm that the deaths are homicides. Therefore, the final numbers reported to the FBI could change slightly depending on the outcomes of those pending reports.
The 2013 statistics might not be remarkable in terms of records, but for those in the criminal justice system – and those advocating an end to violence – the numbers nevertheless are jarring.
“When I hear these numbers, it sounds like work to me,” said DeAngelo Mack, coordinator for the Sacramento Violence Intervention Program, which works with young victims of violence. “I’ve got work to do.”
The city of Sacramento saw the greatest number of homicides of the various county jurisdictions – 34. That was the same number of homicides the Sacramento Police Department reported to the FBI in 2012.
The killings occurred all over the city, but the ZIP code where the most homicides occurred was the one that covers parts of the Meadowview, Parkway and Valley Hi/North Laguna neighborhoods. A seventh homicide occurred in part of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department’s jurisdiction also included in that 95823 ZIP code.
Officer Doug Morse, a police spokesman, said homicide detectives found no notable trends in 2013’s numbers.
The Sheriff’s Department reported 30 homicides in the unincorporated portion of the county. Rancho Cordova reported five, which were investigated by sheriff’s homicide detectives as part of a police services contract.
The ZIP codes covering the Florin area – 95828 – and the Foothill Farms area – 95842 – experienced the most homicides in the sheriff’s jurisdiction.
Citrus Heights reported seven homicides, a marked increase over figures reported in recent years. Galt experienced one homicide – the killing of police Officer Kevin Tonn.
No homicides occurred in Elk Grove or Folsom.
Mack, from the Sacramento Violence Intervention Program, gave the eulogy at the recent funeral for 21-year-old Tre Howard, one of two young men gunned down Dec. 17 not far from the Executive Airport. In his sermon, Mack spoke of his exhaustion seeing the impact of the Sacramento region’s violent crime: In his job, he works with young victims who survive street violence but often are at risk of experiencing it again.
Howard, he said, was a young man who had something to offer before he became a victim of the streets.
“After doing this last funeral, it really hit home that awareness has to be a key. I have to actually get out more and make more people aware of their options and what they can actually do,” Mack said. “It’s just getting (young people) to understand what they have – making them aware of their potential.”
Homicide statistics rarely are a good indicator of overall crime; Sacramento police, for example, reported a 3 percent drop in homicides from 2011 to 2012, but a 7 percent increase in overall crime. Comprehensive 2013 crime statistics are not yet available from law enforcement agencies.