Sun Investigates

Baltimore moves higher on murder rate list

Baltimore moves higher on murder rate list

Baltimore had the fifth-highest murder rate last year among major U.S. cities — 37.4 per 100,000 people, according to statistics released last week by the FBI.

Cities with higher rates last year were Detroit, New Orleans, Newark, and St. Louis. Both Detroit and New Orleans saw sharp declines.

Data from 2012 showed Baltimore with the sixth-highest murder rate. It moved up a spot in 2013 because the city that had the highest rate the previous year — Flint, Mich. — saw its population dip under 100,000 and fall off the major cities list.

The Uniform Crime Report for 2013 is based on data submitted by states to the FBI. The agency does not audit the data and cautions against ranking cities or making other comparisons due to differences between cities.

There was discrepancy in the city's homicide count. The Baltimore Police Department reported 233 homicides to the FBI, but had tallied two more in a public accounting at the end of 2013.

Police said the way the city counts homicides differs from FBI standards.

Baltimore police spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Connolly said two deaths didn't fit the FBI's definition: The death from hyperthermia of a 1-year-old in July 2013 in the 2500 block of S. Paca St. and the asphyxiation of a 4-month-old in September 2013 in the 1600 block of N. Broadway. Both deaths are listed in the city's own tally of homicides.

Baltimore's overall number of violent crimes declined about 0.7 percent last year compared to the year prior, the FBI statistics show, and the total number of property crimes increased 5.6 percent. At the end of last year, preliminary statistics showed property crime had increased only slightly.

Nationally, violent crime was down 4.4 percent, and property crime fell 4.1 percent.

This year in Baltimore, murders are down compared to the same period in 2013, according to the latest police statistics. As of Friday morning, 191 people had been killed in the city, about 7 percent less than at the same time last year.

Baltimore reported nearly as many homicides last year as Philadelphia, which has nearly 1 million more people and saw 247 homicides that year. Baltimore had more homicides than in Houston, which has 1.6 million more people and reported 214 homicides in 2013. Los Angeles, with about 3.3 million more people than Baltimore, had 251 homicides.

Chicago, which sometimes has been billed as the country's "murder capital," had 414 murders for a rate of 15.2 — the same as Tulsa, Okla.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George contributed to this article.

—Justin Fenton

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