A man was shot to death this afternoon near the intersection of North Galvez and Canal Blvd marking the 164th murder in New Orleans by my count. That would match 2015’s total in just 11 months.
I’m not alone in counting 164 murders. NOLA.com published a story shortly after the killing marking it as the 164th murder of the year. NOLA.com commenter Muspench dutifily tracks homicides and she is also at 164 murders.
Yet, as Emily Lane of NOLA.com pointed out in a piece published yesterday, all of our counts are one higher than NOPD’s official count of 163.
And the reason for the discrepancy is that there are five individuals who reasonably could be considered murders but who are not currently being counted as such by NOPD.
Let’s go through them:
- The NOLA.com piece from yesterday noted that they are counting Raven Veal’s unborn child as a 2016 murder. Veal was 9 months pregnant and the child was “of a viable age” per the coroner, hence it is quite reasonable to count her as a 2016 murder victim. While this makes perfect sense, the FBI is quite clear that fetal deaths are not counted for UCR purposes. Since we are comparing NOPD’s 2015 UCR count to the 2016 UCR count it also makes sense not to include the unborn child’s death as an official murder.
- I’m at 164 because I am counting this incident involving a homeowner shooting a burglar who was running away. The homeowner was arrested for battery before the burglar died, so it stands to reason to me that this should be counted as a murder for UCR purposes. Obviously there are lots of issues at play with this case, but if the homeowner was believed to have committed a crime before the burglar’s death then I’m not sure how the incident suddenly stopped being a crime.
- There are three similar incidents that all involve burning victims being found in vehicles. The first is very clearly a murder the question is whether it should be a New Orleans murder. A body was found shot to death and burned in the Lower 9th Ward in March. It’s not listed as a New Orleans murder and I am under the impression that NOPD believes it occurred elsewhere and was only discovered in New Orleans. That’s fair if it’s true, but no further information about where the murder occurred has been released. It’s obviously a murder and it obviously occurred somewhere, it’s fine if that’s not New Orleans but clarification is needed on this incident.
- A man died in an October car fire in New Orleans East. The victim did not die of a gunshot wound but a determination has not yet been made (or isn’t public if it has) as to whether he was the victim of a homicide. The coroner will determine if it is a homicide.
- Finally, a body was discovered in the trunk of a burned vehicle on November 2nd. The coroner has not released a cause of death though the circumstances seem extremely suspicious.
So that’s five deaths that could conceivably be murders but are not right now. The important thing is that New Orleans basically matched 2015’s murder total in 11 months. Regardless of the current number 2016 will almost certainly represent the second straight year of increasing murder in the city.