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Austin homicide rate amid COVID-19 pandemic among the nation's highest, report says

Austin saw nine more murders through June 2020 than at the same point in 2019 – a 64% increase.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin is leading the nation when it comes to the year-to-year percent increase of homicides during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The report states the U.S. is seeing a sharp rise in homicides in its large cities as the nation is currently dealing with COVID-19, recession and backlash against police brutality. The crime statistics analysis among the U.S.'s 50 largest cities discovered that reported homicides were up 24% so far this year, to 3,612. The analysis states that shootings and gun violence also rose, although other violent crimes such as robbery fell.

According to Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley's June monthly report, the area saw a 64.29% increase in homicides compared to the same point last year. It shows that there were 14 murders by the end of June 2019 and 23 murders by the end of June 2020.

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One of Austin's latest homicides involved the death of protester Garrett Foster in Downtown Austin in July. Chief Manley addressed this case and an increase in violent crime around Austin on July 26.

APD Lt. Eve Stephens shared the Wall Street Journal's post stating the city "leads the country in percentage change for homicides compared to the previous year."

According to the Wall Street Journal, cities with ongoing crime problems saw an increase, including Philadelphia, Detroit and Memphis, Tennessee. Chicago, which was reportedly the worst-hit, marked more than one of every eight homicides. Less-violent places have been impacted as well, including Omaha, Nebraska, and Phoenix. In total, 36 of the 50 cities studied saw homicides rise at double-digit rates.

It's worth noting that out of all the cities this analysis compares, Austin generally sees considerably fewer murders. For instance, the Chicago Tribune reports that 432 people have been killed this year. That's 125 more than the year prior.

And according to city press releases and online crime data, Austin homicides appear to be evening out through July. Through the end of July, the APD had put out media releases for 28 homicides – including the Foster shooting – and had put out 23 through the end of July last year, amounting to an increase of about 20%.

To read the full Wall Street Journal report, click here.