Los Angeles seeing spike in homicides in 2021 so far

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The number of homicides in the city of Los Angeles in 2021 now stands at 51, a jump from 32 reported during the same period last year, according to the LAPD.

For Tony Lopez, his son 20-year-old son Anthony was among the 32 homicide victims in 2020 between Jan. 1 and Feb. 9. - before the pandemic began to spiral out of control.

Tony says his son was not a gang member, instead, he was a fun-loving kid who didn't like confrontation. But on Jan. 12, 2020, he ran into two brothers who he didn't know and an altercation followed.

Tony says the two brothers who allegedly shot and killed his son were arrested during a traffic stop about 10 months after the murder. They're now in custody.

"I thought it was going to be a good year, but I didn't know a couple weeks later he'd be gone," Tony said.

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Reynaldo Reaser, the executive director of the group Reclaiming America's Communities through Empowerment (R.A.C.E.), says there's not one thing to blame for the increase in violence, but the pandemic is a factor and has left some young people without extracurricular activities.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore says the pandemic has hurt the ability for gang interventionists to interact and diffuse problems. He says working with the mayor's office last year to add nearly 40 community intervention workers will help reduce violence.

"I'm hopeful with the efforts of adding resources to our gang interventionists, and beginning to see some of our social institutions open back up that we're going to be able to use much of the model that we've seen in the past work," Moore said.

Overall, violent crime has increased 0.7%, Assistant Chief Horace Frank told the Police Commission, while property crimes throughout the city have decreased in all areas except stolen vehicles.

Frank said the increase in violent crime and homicides is happening in other major U.S. cities, as well, and the LAPD is working with other agencies to advance ways of addressing it.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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