LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock crime statistics obtained through a public records request reveal the city is on track for one of the most violent years since at least 2015.
Documents show homicides, cases of battery in the first degree and incidents of terroristic acts have increased over the last five years.
Comparing statistics from the last six years between January 1 and September 7, the rates of all three of those kinds of crime are higher in 2021.
As of September 7, Little Rock had seen 45 homicides for the year. The only other year within 10 cases of that pace was 2017, which saw 41 homicides by September 7.
Looking at cases of first-degree battery, where someone had been shot, stabbed or seriously injured, 2021 had already reached 301 cases by September 7. That number is at least 50 cases higher than both 2017, which had 250 cases, and 2020, when there were 248.
That trend continued to be seen when looking at the tally of terroristic acts., an incident where a home or businesses is hit by gunfire while someone is inside. There were 443 in the first eight months and one week of 2017. There were also 414 cases in that same time frame last year.
Both those levels have been topped, however, with the 496 cases reported by officers during the same time in 2021.
It should be noted the spike in first-degree battery and terroristic act cases seen in 2017 can in part be attributed to the shooting at the Power Ultra Lounge on July 1 of that year. That incident saw 28 people injured, 25 of whom were shot, but no one killed.
The numbers have only continued to grow through the month of September. As of midday on Monday, September 20, 2021, there had been 50 homicides in the capital city for the year.
Comparing that figure to the entirety of each of the previous 10 years shows that only two years have more – 2017 with 52 deaths and 2020 with 55.
There are still just over 100 days left in 2021, and if the same pace of homicide cases continues, Little Rock could hit nearly 70 killings for the year.
The faces behind the numbers
On Oak Street, not far from 12th Street, Mary Garrison keeps an eye on her block. Her porch has a front-row seat to everything, including violence.
“We do hear the activity or the gunfire,” she said. “I just get up and go in the house, I mean, that’s all you can do.”
Garrison escaped gunfire at least once.
“It was a shootout, an actual shootout,” she recalled, noting that her gate door took the shots instead of her home.
“A 44 slug was pulled,” she continued. “It is worse and it’s scary.”
At the same time Garrison recalling her own brush with gunfire, Little Rock officers go 6 miles away to Liquor Exchange on Baseline where someone has just been shot.
Delbert Zamora, along with his best friend, owns the Quality Oil Change Center, located next to the liquor store.
Zamora believes the rise in crime is tied to a rise in criminals in the area.
“There’s too many bad people,” he said. “It happens too much, especially on this street.”
Back on Oak Street, Garrison agreed with the sentiment, saying, “there’s a lot of gunfire activity” in the neighborhood.
Zamora noted he is concerned about the increase in shootings and has sought to defend himself.
“I normally carry a gun, I have it here in the shop,” he said. “Today, I didn’t even bring it. I wasn’t even thinking about it this morning.”
The shop owner said the recent violence has not affected his pocketbook, yet.
“If you have shootings on each side of us, they’re going to be afraid one day,” Zamora said of the impact the level of crime could have on the number of customers coming into his business.
Back on Oak Street, Garrison and her dogs keep guard. She thinks it’s not just one person’s problem. Instead calling it a systematical issue.
“We need to look at ourselves and see what are we doing to contribute, what are we doing to help,” she said.
Shootings or not, Garrison explained she’s here to stay, saying “this is my home.”
Still, Garrison doesn’t know for how long her history-filled home will be in her family.
“My daughter and my son, they let me know as soon as I go face down, they will be selling, but I’m not going anywhere,” she said.
When asked for a comment on this report, the Little Rock Police Department issued a statement noting that violent crime has increased in the city, as it has nationally, and noted that a main focus of the agency was getting illegal guns off the streets of the city.
“As of September 2021, violent crime has seen an increase both nationally and locally. While we acknowledge the unsettling uptick in our community, particularly with homicides, the Little Rock Police Department is working diligently to study these incidences and do all we can to prevent them.Little Rock Police Department statement
“One of our main focuses is on the removal of firearms possessed by felons, stolen, or used in a crime. LRPD produces a weekly report informing the citizens of Little Rock just how many of these firearms have been removed from the previous week, as well as year-to-date.
“Battery and Terroristic Acts and all violent crimes remain a major focus. So far this year, preliminary records demonstrate that the LRPD has currently cleared or closed 72% of Battery 1st cases and 47% of Terroristic Acts.
“As these trends continue to fluctuate nationwide, Police Chief Keith Humphrey and the entire department will continue to prioritize strategies to reduce or solve violent crimes in Little Rock.”