CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina ranks among one of the deadliest states when it comes to homicide. Local health leaders from MUSC say violent crimes involving guns increased by 70% between May and July in the Charleston area.
The increase was reported by MUSC to the city of Charleston on Wednesday. Health leaders say homicides in the city also increased during the same time period. Those leaders are now calling for action.
“We know already that we have a problem with violence here,” says Dr. Ashley Hink, Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine at MUSC. “South Carolina has one of the highest homicide rates in the country.”
The latest violent crime statistics were presented to the city of Charleston during a Health and Wellness Committee meeting by Dr. Hink Wednesday morning.
“I found that we had about a seventy percent increase in gunshot wound related assaults between May and July,” says Dr. Hink.
During the period MUSC treated more than 60 gunshot wound victims, a number normally in the 30s in past years. Dr. Hink says it’s not the only increase health officials noticed.
“There’s been an increase in homicides as well in the city of Charleston based on police data compared to last year,” says Dr. Hink.
An increase not passed over by the Charleston Police Department, Captain Andre Jenkins says the rise has the department focused on reducing curve.
“Every single homicide that occurs in the city of Charleston is concerning,” says Captain Jenkins. “You know one homicide is too many.”
“The Charleston Police Department is taking initiatives to combat the increase, increasing community involvement in hopes of increasing community trust.
“We have a lot of different projects going on to try to reduce crime,” says Captain Jenkins. “We have our officers out making contact like I said everyday with the citizens.”
The increase wasn’t completely unexpected for health leaders. Dr. Hink says their could be several factors for the increase.
“We anticipated this might happen,” says Dr. Hink. “The setting of economic distress, uncertainty in the setting of COVID-19, people being unemployed.”
Leaders now working together to drive down crime, Dr. Hink says leaders must work together and do it now.
“But we have to take it seriously and we have to recognize that it’s a problem but it’s not going to get better unless we act on it,” says Dr. Hink.
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office says they have not seen an increase in gunshot wound victims so far this year. The North Charleston Police Department says it has seen an increase in overall incidents involving guns but has reported the same number of murders (17) as last year. Additionally, the number of gunshot wound victims is down 9, reporting 78 so far this year compared to 87 this time last year for the NCPD.