East Baton Rouge sees uptick in murder count in 2015

Baton Rouge sees uptick in murders in 2015

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge saw 78 murders in 2015, up from 63 murders in 2014, according to East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore.

Roughly half of those took place in three zip codes:

• 19 murders in 70802

• 14 murders in 70805

• 10 murders in 70807

"Historically those are the places hardest hit economically, race issues, employment, mental health," Moore said. "When you layer that one layer on top of the other that's why you have that significant problem."

Murder, by definition, does not include negligent and justified homicides.

One surprise for Moore was the number of multi-victim events. In 2015, there were two triple-murders and seven double-murders. The year before, there were no triple-murders and only one double-murder.

"That in and of itself I think accounts for an additional 20 bodies in that homicide count that you wouldn't normally have in a year," Moore said.

The year started off well. At one point between February and March, the parish went 31 days without a single murder.

"We were continuing on that decline all the way until June," he said.

However, when school let out in June, things changed.

"That's generally where we see our increase in homicides. After school has left out, during the summer period of time, people are out maybe not having things for them to do. No structure," he said.

Over the last year, many cities across the country saw increased homicide counts. As to why, Moore said national events may be to blame.

"Is there a Ferguson effect? Is there an effect of police pulling back and maybe people on the street being emboldened to do different things?" he said. "Maybe the increase in heroin trade, drug trade? Surely we've seen killings over drugs."

That second scenario has law enforcement rethinking how to fight gang violence, which is one of the focuses of the parish's Brave program.

"Normally you classify it as kids that are involved in a group that has a name, they go to a particular school, they live in an area, they have signs, they have colors. Maybe now we have to expand our groups to drug dealing groups," he said.

In 2015, there was also an increase in the number of murders outside the city limits. Moore said this is happening because the parish continues to grow, with more people settling outside the downtown area.

Looking forward to 2016, Moore said people need to demand a change in their neighborhoods.

"Any reduction is going to come from the community, only with the assistance of law enforcement," he said.

2015 still comes in below 2012. That year was the high water mark with 83 murders.

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