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Flint, MI–Flint has seen a 169% increase in non-fatal shootings since last year.
According to the Michigan State Police Department, there were 29 non-fatal shootings in 2019 year-to-date. This year, there have been 78 non-fatal shootings.
The report also shows an 83.3% increase in homicide shootings.
In 2019 year-to-date, there were 12 homicide shootings. There have been 22 so far this year.
A 2018 Federal Bureau of Investigation report found an increase of crime in Flint making it the nation’s sixth most violent city with a population of at least 50,000.
Michigan State Police Lt. David Kaiser said that there is usually an increase in homicide in the summer months, but there wasn’t an increase like this from 2018 to 2019.
“When we see an increase in temperature we tend to see an increase in violence,” Kaiser said. “This year is even worse and the only difference between this year and last year is COVID-19 keeping people cooped up.”
University of Michigan-Flint Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Kenneth Litwin said that while annual fluctuations in violence can vary widely and it can be hard to explain the exact cause for change, the heat and COVID-19 could definitely be factors.
“We know that most violent crime occurs between people that know each other, oftentimes friends, associates, family members,” Litwin said. “I was thinking that for some people their homes are not a safe place to be–it’s a scary place to be.”
“People need that break to go to school, go to work, or have another person go to work give them peace,” he said. “For some people the home is one of the most dangerous places to be, so when you ask people to stay at home, you ask people to stay in a dangerous place.”
Additionally, he said that “maybe when people get to be out in public again, whether advised to or not, there could be some pent up energy from not being able to go out,” that could contribute to the rise in violent crime.
He said there are usually a multitude of factors an increase in violence.
On May 26, Flint had three shootings in one day.
On June 14, a gas station employee shot a man outside of a locked door.
Last Friday, a man died after being shot in a vehicle.
Other major cities across the United States are also seeing spikes in violent crimes right now, but not as high as in Flint.
Comparing murders in the first six months of 2019 to the first six months of 2020, New York City is up 23.1% from 143 to 176, Philadelphia is up 27% from 165 to 210 and Chicago is up 39% from 254 to 353.
Litwin said it’s important to look at the percent change as well as the rate change.
“If a place has 20 homicides one year and then they have 25 the next, that’s a huge percent increase, but only 5 more,” he said. “But every life is precious and every life lost is not just that life lost. Family members of victims suffer, but family members of offenders do too.”
Flint Police Chief Philip Hart did not respond to requests for comments in time for publication.