Earlier this week, Seattle residents were shocked and saddened by the seemingly-random shootings that left five people dead. With those fatalities, Seattle's homicide rate in the first half of 2012 jumped to 21, the same number of deaths during all of 2011 and two more than in 2010.
According to Seattle police data, there has been a significant increase in gun-related crime in the past year. Between April 2011 and March 2012, there were 589 robbery and assault crimes involving firearms. In comparison, there were only 460 such crimes between April 2010 and March 2011.
Other cities have seen similar increases in homicides, robberies, assaults and other gun-related crimes. While officials in those cities have largely attributed the jumps to gang activity, Seattle police say that the rise in shootings in this area is primarily due to the availability of and access to firearms.
In sum, Seattle's crime rate is relatively low when compared to other similarly-sized cities. In 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, Seattle ranked 78th in homicides out of 94 cities with 200,000 or more residents. In that same year, the city ranked 60th for violent crimes, which include homicides as well as rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults.
Overall, violent crime has been on the decline across the United States for several years. However, longstanding trends still remain. For example, nearly 60 percent of all homicides in the U.S. in 2009 were perpetrated by spouses, children, employees or other people that the victims knew personally.
If you have been charged with a homicide or other violent crime, it may benefit you to have a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side to advocate for you and to help you avoid the worst potential consequences of a conviction.
Source: The Seattle Times, "Despite spike, Seattle murder rate low for city this size," Kyung M. Song and Justin Mayo, May 30, 2012