Flint shootings more than double in first half of 2020, homicides up 83%

Pairing the heat with the COVID-19 restrictions, the Genesee County Prosecutor said tensions are at an all-time high.
Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 5:06 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (7/14/2020) - The Genesee County Prosecutor has charged a 16-year old in the death of his friend, 16-year old Louis Williams.

The shooting happened just after midnight, Monday July 6th.

Police believe Williams’ friend was shooting at a different target, but the bullet hit him, instead.

Williams died later that Monday morning.

His friend, who's charged as a juvenile, is facing one count of 2nd degree murder.

That shooting was one of many last week.

We asked Genesee County’s top law enforcement officer, if the rise in violence can be attributed to anything in particular.

He said it’s the heat.

The Genesee County Prosecutor explained every summer we see a spike in violent crime. Pairing the heat with the COVID-19 restrictions, Leyton explained that’s caused tensions to be at an all-time high.

“Tempers flare and things happen and if somebody has a gun on them, sometimes they fire that gun improperly for no good reason. And, you see a spike in violent crime and that’s what’s happening,” Leyton said.

So how are guns getting into so many people's hands?

Leyton said he supports the 2nd amendment and there should be lawful gun ownership; but in Genesee County, the problem is there's too much unlawful gun ownership, making the weapons accessible.

“Maybe because of the heat you’re not feeling so good and you’re not thinking clearly and you’re just in a rotten mood and sometimes that one thing leads to another,” Leyton added.

Not accounting for last week’s violence, as of July 5th -- a week from this past Sunday -- shootings in Flint are up 169-percent.

According to the latest statistics from Michigan State Police, there were 29 non-fatal shootings from January 1st to July 5th 2019. There have been 78 so far this year from January 1st to July 5th 2020.

Homicides by shooting in Flint are up 83.3-percent. By July 5th 2019, there were just 12. Since July 5th 2020, there have been 22.

So what can be done to stop the violence?

“We’ve done gun buyback programs over the years, but the most important thing to combat gun violence is education. Most important thing we can do is get into those schools and talk to the kids about gun violence and about why you shouldn’t have a gun unless you’re using it or having it for a legal purpose,” Leyton said.

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