Distressing distinction: Highest murder total of last 2 decades for Jacksonville

Nearly 160 victims killed in the city in 2019 as leaders work to shift culture of violence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville’s violence has yet to be cured.

Despite efforts from city leaders to shift the culture -- particularly in neighborhoods prone to violence -- Jacksonville recorded the highest murder total the city has seen over the last two decades.

According to News4Jax records, 128 men, women, teenagers and children were murdered in 2019, and another 31 victims were killed in cases that were either ruled not to be murders or have yet to be classified.

Our records differ somewhat from those the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office releases because for investigative reasons, JSO includes some homicides for 2019 that did not occur in the calendar year or in the city limits.

According to state law enforcement statistics and our records, since 2000, the closest Jacksonville came to 159 homicides was 152 in 2007, a year that saw 28 police-involved shootings, which count toward the homicide total.

For clarification, all murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murders. The yearly total for homicides will be the larger of the two numbers each year, because it includes other types of killings, like those committed in self-defense or some manslaughter cases.

Of the 159 victims killed in Jacksonville in 2019, just over half (80) were under the age of 30, including 27 teenagers, a 3-year-old girl and two babies.

Many of last year’s homicide cases remain unsolved, like the Cordell Williams homicide case from November. Family members said the 15-year-old was walking to a Burger King in Northwest Jacksonville when he was shot to death.

A neighbor who did not want to be identified said he heard the gunshots and saw Williams running for his life down this sidewalk. Williams’ older sister said she and her family are still waiting to find out if the case is close to being solved.

“Still haven’t heard from detectives. Still reaching out to detectives. It’s very frustrating," Quanisha Walker said.

Frustrating because the case, like so many others from last year, can’t be solved without credible leads to a suspect.

“It’s sad because someone knows," Walker said. "Someone knows what happened to not just my brother but others. Someone knows. Someone has seen something, but everyone is too scared to say anything.”

Williams was one of more than two dozen victims killed in the 32209 ZIP code last year.

In a trend that will sound all too familiar for Jacksonville residents, more than 40% of the city’s 2019 homicides were in just four ZIP codes that cover large sections of Northwest Jacksonville and the Westside:

  • 32209: 27
  • 32210: 16
  • 32208: 13
  • 32254: 12

The 32209 area has consistently been the deadliest in Jacksonville every year, but in some good news for that violence-battered zone, the rate of homicides dropped noticeably in the last quarter of the year. Just four homicides were reported in the 32209 ZIP code in the last three months of the year.

That could be a positive sign for the efforts of Cure Violence mediators, who are working directly in these neighborhoods to keep incidents from turning violent before it’s too late.

In another worrying trend, at least 78% of the 2019 homicides involved gun violence, and in another 15 cases, the cause of death has not been released, so the number of shooting deaths could be higher. For the 32209 and 32254 ZIP codes, shootings accounted for a slightly higher percentage of the homicides: 82%.

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 an interactive map (below), 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 webteam@wjxt.com, 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.

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