Memphis on pace for record number of homicides in 2020


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The number of homicides in Memphis this year stands at 202. A deadly shooting in Bethel Grove around midnight Thursday was the city’s 200th.

According to police, officers responded to a shooting call along Burns Avenue and found a man dead inside a car.

Authorities have not released additional information on the victim or a possible suspect.

The single year record for homicides in Memphis was set back in 2016 when 228 people were killed. So far this year at least 24 children have been killed.

This year, Memphis is averaging 25 homicides a month. At that rate, Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams estimates the city will end 2020 at around 300 homicides.

“That’s a hard pill to swallow,” Williams said.

Williams attributes much of the violence to growing social unrest and the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think all of it’s a contributing factor,” Williams said, “The stars lining up but lining up for bad.”

He feels more help from the community would slow the trend and deter future crime.

“People know who are committing these crimes,” Williams said, “And nobody really wants to say anything until it affects them directly.”

Josh Spickler is a criminal justice system reform advocate. He says 2020 has intensified issues that have existed in Memphis for a long time. He says those issues include generational poverty and easy access to cheap firearms. Spickler believes job creation and community investment are ways to get out ahead of the problem.

“We want to give people hope. We want to give them opportunity,” Spickler said, “We want to give them a reason not to have a gun in the first place. We want to give them a reason not be in a situation where these kinds of deadly decisions are being made.”

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