An explosion of violence in August and September driven in part by gang infighting led to a 16 percent increase in Milwaukee homicides last year, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We had two dreadful months that drove this significant crime category, and we reacted as quickly as we could and in the ensuing months we had a leveling off of this serious phenomenon,” said Police Chief Edward Flynn. Milwaukee’s total of 106 homicide victims in 2013 is the first time homicides have exceeded 100 since Flynn’s tenure began in 2008.
The 2013 total is still fewer than the 122 homicides recorded in 2005, and the 1990s when homicide totals regularly exceeded 100. “The gangs were not necessarily fighting over gang turf or gang wars,” Assistant Chief Kurt Leibold said. “It was over silly neighborhood disputes that erupted into gang violence.” In August, police developed a list of targets, who weren’t necessarily homicide suspects but had intelligence about who associated with whom in the neighborhood. “The whole idea was to take them out of the equation, and we’ve slowly been doing that and you’re seeing the violence decrease,” Leibold said. Like Milwaukee, Baltimore and Indianapolis also recorded more homicides this year than in the past several years.