From 2003 through 2005, 1,662 murders were committed in New York. An analysis by the New York Times says that of the solved cases, men and boys were responsible for 93 percent; they killed with guns about two-thirds of the time; their victims tended to be other men and boys; and in more than half the cases, the killer and the victim knew each other. The offender and victim were of the same race in more than three-quarters of the killings. More than 90 percent of the killers had criminal records; and of those who wound up killed, more than half had them. “If the average New Yorker is concerned about being murdered in a random crime, the odds of that happening are really remote,” said police official Michael Farrell. “If you are living apart from a life of crime, your risk is negligible.”
“People will be shocked to see how safe it is to live in New York City,” said criminologist Andrew Karmen of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Victims and offenders are pretty much pulled from the same background. Very often, young victims have young killers. Very often, the victim and killer knew each other.” Still, at least a quarter of the city’s murders in these three years, were committed by strangers; most of those were the result of a dispute. Stranger homicides now happen at almost twice the rate of 50 years ago, when, according to a classic study by criminologist Marvin Wolfgang of the University of Pennsylvania, about 14 percent of murders were committed by strangers.