City Grapples With Spike In Homicides

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jun 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 12:17:03-04

Nashville has already broken an unenviable record in 2017, far surpassing the total number of murders the city saw in 2016 and the year is barely half over.

In 2016, according to NewsChannel 5 records and data compiled by the Metro Nashville Police Department Nashville had 86 homicides. So far this year 57 people have been murdered in Music City, with nearly a half-dozen of those deaths coming last week alone.

"It's not a joke, it's not funny. It's a human life. You're taking away somebody's child," says Al Gangji whose 14-year-old son Clayton was shot and killed on Saturday.

Clayton's was the 56th life lost in Nashville this year due to gun violence. The young football player was on the verge of starting his freshman year of high school.

"Every day, every single day there's another parent grieving for their child. It's gotta stop, it has to stop," Al said.

City officials know there is something wrong.

"The number for our office is one, you have one homicide and that's one too many," says Lonnell Matthews who is the Director of Neighborhood and Community Engagement at the mayor's office.

Fixing what's happening will likely require an honest internal look at how we got here.

"Young people have told me it’s easier for them to buy a weapon than it is to buy cigarettes," Matthews says.

There is no one reason he believes that Nashville is seeing the spike in homicides. Instead there are a multitude of factors playing into the rise. The city's growth Matthews says is displacing some residents, pushing them further away from the city's core. In turn some of those displacement are becoming more economically challenged and are turning to crime, he added.

"We have to make sure economics isn't a driving factor for violent crime in the city," he said.

To help deal with the violence the Metro Nashville Police Department is adding 70 uniformed officers but they alone can't fix the problem.

"There’s no silver bullet to making sure our community is safe, I think everyone has a responsibility and stake."