Driven by a rash of shootings into occupied homes, Durham’s violent crime rate was 30 percent higher in the first six months of 2014 than in the same period a year earlier, Deputy Police Chief Larry Smith told the City Council Monday night.
Standing in for Chief Jose L. Lopez, who was out of town, Smith delivered the department’s first-half crime statistics.
The report showed a decline in homicides, from 13 to 11, but increased numbers of rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults from January through June.
“We are starting to see some moderation here in the third quarter, thank goodness,” Smith said, speaking to reporters before the council meeting. “We’ve made some key arrests.”
Aggravated assaults led the first-half increase, showing a 50 percent increase in the number of incidents.
For statistical purposes, each person inside the house is counted as an single case of aggravated assault, whether injured or not; the number of individual incidents, though, was also up, by 32 percent, Smith said.
“We’ve had a running battle between two groups,” he said. “We’re not really sure what the beef has been, but there’s been a lot of back-and-forth shooting, retaliatory violence.”
In the first six months of 2014, Smith said, there were 71 instances of aggravated assault with two or more victims that involved a firearm. In all of 2013, there were 84; in 2012, 110; and in 2011, 89.
The rate of shooting into houses was highest in January through March, he said, and indications are it might have been tied to the Jan. 4 death of 9-year-old Jaeden Sharpe, who was shot while sitting in a car with his mother, Lakeisha Holloway.
A suspect in that case, Everett Lamont Graves, is in the Durham County jail, his bail set at $1.75 million.
Smith said police do not think Jaeden and Holloway, who was wounded, were the intended victims.
Overall, major violent and property crimes were up 11 percent from 2013.
“Obviously, it’s not moving in a direction I would like to see, or any of us would,” Mayor Bill Bell said when Smith finished his report.
Smith said, however, that since the end of June the violent-crime rate has been trending down.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said, “as it relates to this report.”