Violence in Wilmington: Guns at the Center

firearm-409000_1280City ranks third in violent crime among those of comparable size.

According to the Wilmington News-Journal’s recently published study of FBI crime data, during 2013, Wilmington, Delaware, ranked third in violence among 450 cities of comparable size. Only two cities of Wilmington’s size—Saginaw and Flint Michigan—reported more violent crime. Here’s what News-Journal reporters Cris Barrish and Esteban Parra reported on Nov. 13:

Wilmington’s status among about 750 cities with populations of more than 50,000 also got worse in 2013. The city ranked eighth in 2012 but last year it rose to fifth – surpassed in violent crime only by Detroit and the two smaller Michigan municipalities, plus Oakland, California, and Memphis, Tennessee.

The statistics were worse in Wilmington than two larger neighbors with a long-standing reputation as high-crime cities – Baltimore, which ranked 12th among cities with at least 50,000 residents, and Philadelphia at 34th.

The bureau’s latest annual report shows that overall violence did decrease in Wilmington, from 1,703 violent crimes per 100,000 to 1,624 per 100,000 residents. The decrease, however, was not enough to give Wilmington a better national ranking.

Gun crime is a major factor in these statistics.

Among cities of comparable size, Wilmington ranked second in robberies, fourth in aggravated assault, and seventh in homicides. Robbery is a “key component of the FBI’s violent crime rate,” the News-Journal reported. And most shootings that do not result in the victim’s death are classified as aggravated assault.

During 2013, 154 people were shot in Delaware’s largest city. Eighteen died. To date in 2014, Wilmington has seen 25 homicides, 21 of which involved guns. The city’s worst year for homicides is 27, set in 2010.

In October, Mayor Dennis Williams—a former city detective—announced the formation of a homicide uniting the Wilmington Police Department. The announcement came after significant public pressure to make arrests in the city’s homicides. Of 25 such crimes this year, there have been just five arrests. Last week, again according to the News-Journal, the homicide unit made its first arrest in a bicycle robbery that resulted in a shooting death of 57-year-old Donald Smith.

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