JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In some neighborhoods in the heart of Jacksonville, the echoes of gunfire may be as familiar a sound as the melodies from the local ice cream truck -- and both sounds can send children running.
For these neighborhoods, candy-cane striped crime scene tape and yellow evidence markers are common the morning after yet another night of violence.
The city remains on a pace of a homicide about every 2½ days.
Of the 116 homicides News4Jax tracked in Jacksonville in the first nine months of the year, nearly half (57) were reported in just four ZIP codes:
- 32209: 23
- 32210: 13
- 32208: 11
- 32254: 10
In all, 23 ZIP codes in Jacksonville experienced a homicide in the first nine months of the year.
The 32208, 32209 and 32254 ZIP codes cover large sections of Northwest Jacksonville. Several neighborhoods in those areas -- including Moncrief, Grand Park, Magnolia Gardens, Woodstock, Robinson's Addition, Ribault and Panama Park -- have had multiple homicides this year.
"It is nothing new or unusual. It is something that regularly happens, unfortunately, in these ZIP codes, especially 32209, which is an area which I grew up in," News4Jax crime expert Ken Jefferson said. "I am certain efforts have been made to be proactive and prevent crime in that area. I know they have ShotSpotter and cameras in certain areas of 32209, but they will have to keep working at it, an effort between the sheriff’s office and community. The community needs to step up."
The 32210 ZIP code encompasses several Westside neighborhoods, but the homicides in that area have been mostly concentrated west of Interstate 295, and north of 103rd Street/Timuquana Road in the Jacksonville Heights, Cedar Hills, Oak Hill and Sweetwater neighborhoods.
Almost three-quarters of the 57 homicides in these neighborhoods involved known gun violence. Overall, of 105 homicides through September where the cause of death was released, nearly 85% involved guns.
Jefferson, a former JSO officer, said in his experience in law enforcement homicides are more likely to be between people who know each other than random crime, particularly when it involves gang feuds and retaliation shootings.
"(When) you hear about a shooting one day and then another one two days later that close -- a lot of it is territorial," Jefferson said.
According to News4Jax records, 95 of the year's 116 homicides through September have been labeled murders by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. The remaining cases are either “pending classification” or have been deemed a “non-murder homicide” -- most of which have been cleared as “justifiable” or “excusable.”
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office transparency site and court records, 55 of the homicide cases through September can be considered “cleared.” Arrests have been made in 38 cases, three involved JSO officers and 14 have been deemed “exceptionally cleared” -- usually meaning the homicide was in self-defense or the suspect is dead.
Jacksonville is far outpacing most previous years’ homicide numbers through September. Over the last 10 years, Jacksonville has averaged about 82 homicides a year through the first nine months of the year.
The previous nine-month high in the last decade was 101 in 2017.
A dozen of the homicide victims through September were under 18 years old. All but two of those were teenagers, and all of the teenage victims were shot to death. The two younger children -- an 11-month-old boy and a 3-year-old girl -- both died at the hands of a caretaker, according to police.
Of the homicide victims through September, 18 were women or girls and at least 10 of those victims knew the person police say is responsible for their death.
News4Jax has worked to find pictures of each of the year's homicide victims, whenever possible, to put faces with the numbers. We have generated a map, showing the locations of each of the homicides, along with the name of the victim, when known, the circumstances of the homicide, and a photo of the victim, if one was available.* Prior mugshots were used only when no other photo was available.
If you know the name of a homicide victim who is not named on our map or have a photo of a victim, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will update our database.
Editor’s Note: Since the introduction of Marsy’s Law and the narrow interpretation of it adopted by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, News4Jax has relied on sources to provide some homicide-related information that would typically come from law enforcement, including the location of some crimes. The data we put forth in this article and the map below, including ages of victims and where crimes were reported, was compiled from those sources, law enforcement and our reporting in the field.
*Because of technical difficulties with Google maps, the images of the victims might not display for all users. We apologize for the inconvenience.