JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Despite weeks on lockdown this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, Jacksonville’s homicide total for the first six months of 2020 rose over the first half of last year.
By the end of June 2019, Jacksonville had recorded 84 homicides and 63 murders. So far this year, the city has recorded 90 homicides and 70 murders.
The 32209 ZIP code of Northwest Jacksonville still led the city with 14 homicides, down slightly from the same time last year (16). But one unexpected ZIP code recorded an alarming trend: The 32218 area, which includes a wide swath of the city’s Northside, went from one homicide in the first six months of 2019 to 12 so far this year.
32218, which includes the Amazon fulfillment center near the airport where a man was gunned down on Monday, saw a rash of young men killed by gun violence so far this year.
Of the 12 homicides in 2020, 11 of the victims were age 30 or younger and all 11 of those involved guns. Ten of those were men and the 11th was 5-year-old Kearria Attison, who was killed in a shootout involving four men.
Six of the young men were killed on Harts Road, a street that stretches only two miles north to south from near I-295 to Dunn Avenue.
The median age of Jacksonville’s homicides so far this year is 28, and more than half (50) of the homicides involved victims 30 years old and younger. Of those, only two did not involve known gun violence.
In other parts of the city, ZIP code 32210 recorded eight homicides and four other ZIP codes recorded six (32208, 32211, 33354, 32277).
News4Jax has been tracking homicides for years with the goal of humanizing the victims by sharing their names and faces. With the implementation of Marsy’s Law last year, and the narrow interpretation of it adopted by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, names are typically available only when shared by loved ones.
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Paul Tutwiler, CEO of the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Council, which oversees one of the city’s crime-fighting initiatives -- Bridges to the Cure-- is quite concerned about the trend in 32218.
“It is quite discouraging,” Tutwiler said. “We could even use a stronger word: It’s horrific.”
Because that ZIP code was not a trouble spot before, people who address violence are just beginning to study what is happening there.
“Although it’s not an area that we monitor, we still need to look into the details of it to make sure it’s not something that will spill over into our target area,” said Renata Hannans, program manager of Bridges to the Cure.
Another city initiative specifically to combat gun violence is Cure Violence, which works is to identify people considered high risk and steer them away from committing such acts.
Cure Violence’s target zone extends from the area around Edward Waters College to Edgewood Avenue and areas in between. It said it has not had a homicide in its target zone in nearly two months.
“That’s really impressive for the kind of work that we’re doing, and historically, what has happened in our community,” Tutwiler said.
Cure Violence launched last year and is still in its infancy and they admit there’s far more work to be done.
“The community needs to be aware that we are here ... that there are other ways to deal with conflicts other than violence and or gun violence,” Hannans said.