ATLANTA — Violent crime remains everyone’s “other” pandemic.
Everyone — police, business leaders, office-holders, candidates and residents — is searching for solutions to stop it, as the violence since Labor Day continues.
The last two full weeks of summer across Metro Atlanta have been hot, humid and horrific, which is in line with a horrific, violent year so far.
In the City of Atlanta alone there have already been more murders than during four of the previous five years.
As of Sept. 5, according to the latest numbers from the Atlanta Police Department, there had been 113 murders in Atlanta, an increase of 16 percent compared with the same period in 2020, and an increase of 64 percent over the same period in 2019.
In each of these calendar years in Atlanta, here are the numbers of murders, according to APD:
- 2016 110
- 2017 79
- 2018 88
- 2019 95
- 2020 154
- 2021 through Sept. 5 113
In the past two weeks in Atlanta since Labor Day 2021, there have been six more shooting deaths, two stabbing deaths, and 17 people have been shot and wounded — including a woman who’d been shot just sitting inside her home by someone who’d opened fire at her house from outside.
Just this weekend in Gwinnett County, four people were shot in two locations, two of them were killed.
In Brookhaven last week at Parke Towne Apartments, a man was shot and killed and two suspects were detained.
In Cobb County last week, police shot and killed a man who was armed with a knife, holding another man hostage.
At a crime forum on Tuesday, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said his department is focusing on a particular, small group of violent criminals who keep getting bonded out of jail.
“It becomes very discouraging when you find yourself faced with a person that you’ve arrested time and time again,” Chief Bryant said.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last week received a budget boost of an additional $5 million a year from the county commission, weeks after she first detailed the immediate need for the money. The increase will allow Willis to hire more staff, to try to reduce the backlog of cases due to COVID shutdowns and to try to keep violent criminals behind bars.
But Willis said last week that, as much as the money is needed, the money is late.
She said that on Sept. 28, her office may be forced to begin releasing suspects from jail because she didn’t get the money soon enough to prosecute cases promptly, as required by law.
“We’re not going to get to every single case,” and get indictments, to keep every suspect behind bars, she said. “And I’m not going to tell the public that we are.”
On Tuesday, Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta will impose a curfew because of all the violent crime at the mall. No one under 18 will be allowed on the property after 3 p.m., unless they have an escort who is at least 21 and will take responsibility for them.
“They should have implemented this when they built Lenox mall,” one shopper told 11Alive. “It shouldn’t have taken for anyone to lose their lives.”