In a year in which Charlotte is on a pace for its highest annual homicide total in years, here is a grim statistic: Based on averages, it’s likely someone will be killed by Saturday night.
Since Jan. 1, one person has been slain, on average, every three and a half days – or two people per week. That puts the city on a homicide rate that would total 104 killings in 2017. That would be by far the most in recent history.
Charlotte’s 26th and 27th homicides came on Wednesday, when two people were killed within six hours on different sides of the city: A 34-year-old woman in south Charlotte and a 19-year-old man in east Charlotte. A suspect has not been arrested in either case.
Last year, 67 people were murdered in the city – one every 5.4 days, police data show. On average, Charlotte sees about 61 homicides a year, or one every six days.
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Charlotte police aren’t sure why the city is seeing a jump. Many of the killings appear to have resulted from a disagreement that escalated and got deadly, Charlotte police have said.
The most bizarre of the sagas drew national media coverage, when a couple in their 60s was killed Sunday and their grand daughter kidnapped and taken to Washington, D.C. The girl, age 11, has since been recovered and two suspects arrested and charged in the case, including the couple’s son.
Police Chief Kerr Putney says the department is working to confiscated illegal guns and crack down on repeat offenders. But he remains baffled at why so many African Americans have been killed. At least 20 of the city’s homicide victims were black, including the two grandparents killed Sunday in their middle class home.
The average age of victims: 33.
“What’s most troubling to me is that our most vulnerable continue to – year after year – look more and more like me,” Putney told the Observer’s news partner WBTV. “What we see is people of color in particular are most at risk.”
Most of this year's victims were shot. At least four were stabbed and one – a 3-month-old – was neglected.
Many of this year's killings have happened in an arch north or east of uptown, records show. Some happened just blocks apart.
▪ Last month, Germany Byers, 37, and Laymon Moore, 29, died within a half-mile of each other near Beatties Ford Road in north Charlotte.
▪ Shenika Simpson, 37, and Michael Morris, 28, also died within a half-mile of each other near W. Sugar Creek Road. Simpson was killed in January. Morris died in March.
Not included in the 2017 homicide tally are two Charlotte teens who died just outside the county: A 14-year-old was shot and killed in a Mount Holly park, and a 19-year-old immigrant teen was found dead along a rural road south of Hickory in Catawba County.