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Murders increased nearly 80% year-over-year, ahead of 6th Street mass shooting

Austin's rising murder rate mirrors similar trends in other U.S. cities. (Charlie L. Harper III)

The number of murders increased 79% year-over-year in May, according to the Austin police chief's monthly report.

There were 34 murders in the city of Austin between January and May of this year, compared to 19 over the same period in 2020.

Four additional murders have occurred so far in June, including the death of Douglas Kantor, 25, in the Sixth Street mass shooting on June 12.

Local public safety advocates and state Republican officials have attributed the rising murder rate to police budget cuts, which Austin City Council enacted last August, but cities that increased their police spending are also seeing increases.

Experts say the increase could be due to myriad reasons, including the strain of the pandemic, lost confidence in the police and justice system and surging gun sales.

A closer look

The APD sectors with the highest number of murders so far this year include:

  • Ida (bordered by MoPac, Anderson Road, Springdale Road and 51st Street): 6 murders, up from 5 this time last year
  • Adam (Northwest Austin): 5 murders, up from 0
  • Charlie (East Austin): 5 murders, up from 4
  • Edward (Northeast Austin): 5 murders, up from 2

Other crimes

Another area of crime that has seen a major influx is theft of car parts, which is up 182%. Catalytic convertors thefts have flooded headlines locally.

The overall number of crimes against persons—rape and assault—and property remained steady over the same period, while the number of crimes against society, such as drug violations and prostitution, decreased 37%. Crimes against property, which include robbery and fraud, are also down 1% overall.

In light of rising violent gun crime, the Austin Police Department launched a gun prevention program in mid-April. Since then, the department has seized 78 firearms and made 44 arrests, according to a Friday news release. "Our efforts to fight against violent and gun crime remain steadfast," Interim Chief Joseph Chacon said in a statement.


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