Posted on October 29, 2018

California Homicides: Who Gets Killed and Why

Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle, October 25, 2018

California saw {snip} 1,829 killings in 2017, a number that is startling to be sure — but that rate represents a 6 percent drop from 2016 when adjusted for population growth. The homicide rate was down 21 percent over the past decade and off by more than two-thirds since 1980.

The news was even better in the Bay Area, where the 15 largest cities enjoyed a dip from 277 homicides in 2016 to 235 last year.

Still, {snip} murders continue to take a disproportionate toll on young men of color. Guns are a central theme of the violence.

{snip} The following are some of the findings:

Gangs blamed: Authorities said 30 percent of killings with a known motive were gang-related, 33 percent traced to an “unspecified argument,” 8 percent were a result of domestic violence and nearly as many stemmed from robberies or rapes.


Big gender and racial gaps: 80 percent of those killed were male. In cases where a victim’s race was known, 45 percent were Latino, 27 percent were black and 19 percent were white.

Of those arrested for homicide, 48 percent were Latino, 25 percent were black and 20 percent were white. Eighty-eight percent were male.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 37 percent of California residents are white, 39 percent are Latino and 6.5 percent are black.


Young men still dominate booking logs: Half of people arrested on suspicion of murder were between the age of 18 and 29.

Domestic violence stark: {snip} While 52 percent of female victims were killed in their home, the biggest proportion of male victims lost their lives on the street.

Death row grows, a little: {snip} Still, nine men and two women were sentenced to death in 2017. Five of the defendants were tried in Riverside County.