Homicides in Charlotte are up sharply this year, according to quarterly statistics released Wednesday by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. CMPD says it investigated 33 homicides in the first three months of 2019, up from just 10 in the same period last year and 23 in 2017.
First-quarter crime statistics show crime overall was up 4.6 percent. CMPD says firearms were involved in 90 percent of the killings and other violent incidents. The report says violent crimes rose 11 percent, and property crimes 3.4 percent.
Deputy Chief Coerte Voorhees says the problem is bigger than CMPD and stems from more people resorting to guns to resolve disputes.
"Thirty-three is kind of a shocking number," Voorhees told reporters. "We had 10 this time last year. It's a very large increase. Not proud of that number at all, but I can tell you we're doing a lot of work to combat it. The secret is we cannot combat everything. I wish we could."
He called on residents to help.
"We can't do it alone, we need the public's help. Really, we need to change the culture," Voorhees said.
That will take mentors, teachers, adults, neighbors, and church members "to help young people learn how to take a slight without responding violently," he said.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney also says it's getting harder to solve violent cases, in part because victims, especially young people, aren't cooperating.
"They don't want to talk about the circumstances in which they were shot," Putney said. "So all we can assume is that there are some issues going on that we need to break through culturally. Because if you're not going to help us bring people to justice, we're going to have a lot of families who are suffering who never get closure."
CMPD said police don't know why 10 of the 33 murder victims were killed. Of the 33 murders since January:
- Six involved domestic violence
- Eleven were drug-related
- Five were robberies
- Seven were arguments among people who knew each other
- One was an officer-involved shooting, which happened last week at a Burger King off Beatties Ford Road.
With so many crimes involving guns, Voorhees also appealed for gun owners to help.
"Most citizens who own guns are law-abiding, but one of the things we see continually is the number of guns that are stolen," Voorhees
"The largest majority of those are stolen from people's homes in burglaries and larcenies and/or larcenies from autos," he added. He said home and auto gun safes are worth the expense, "because I think most people who are law-abiding who legally possess firearms don't want it to be used in one of these incidents."
Watch the news conference below.