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Pandemic, other factors driving rise in homicides, police and activists say

Posted at 10:04 PM, Apr 16, 2020

CINCINNATI — In the last 28 days, police said they have seen one of the highest spikes in homicides in years. The string of violence continued Thursday with a Westwood apartment complex shooting that left a man dead in broad daylight.

“One fired a shot, struck the other individual. The suspect then took off on foot,” said Cincinnati Police Captain Paul Broxterman Thursday. Homicide detectives are still looking for a suspect.

When the crime scene tape goes up, community activists like Peterson Mingo and Mitch Morris are there to calm things down. But with the recent COVID-19 outbreak, things have changed.

“I have no idea what’s going on, lots of frustration, people being cooped up in the house, a lot of tension, financial woes … There’s nowhere you can really pinpoint it,” Mingo said.

According to city data, police typically have seen four homicides every 28 days over the last three years.

But between March 15 and April 11, there have been 13 reported homicides, which represents a 225% increase over the three-year average. The rise in violence included a double murder in Spring Grove Village and four homicides in the same day last weekend, according to court documents.

“It’s definitely concerning, and whether it’s related to the virus with people staying indoors, a lot of pent up aggression -- I’m not sure about that. There was some sort of beef between the two individuals that caused this altercation,” Broxterman said.

The exact source of the violence is a moving target.

“We are constantly monitoring hotspots and everything, but a lot of our shootings that we’ve seen have been drive-by shootings and shootings that are spontaneous acts of aggression,” Broxterman said.

Mingo says activists are continuing outreach while observing social distancing and hopes once the economy opens, things will improve.

“A lot of these young men and these young women feel a lot of pressure and they get into things they otherwise would not have gotten into,” he said.