(Kansas City Star) A Kansas City photographer who proudly documented first steps and graduations. A St. Louis high school freshman who loved to dance. A police officer killed while responding to a mass shooting at a Springfield gas station.
They were among 689 people shot and killed in Missouri in 2020, a year that will likely be recorded as the state’s deadliest ever for gun violence.
The historic level of homicides was driven by the state’s two largest cities, with 266 gun homicides in St. Louis and 161 in Kansas City. Both cities have for years ranked high among U.S. cities for gun violence. But Springfield, the state’s third-largest city, saw its fatal shootings more than double, with 23.
By the end of the year, Missouri had the third highest per-capita rate of gun deaths in the country, behind Louisiana and Mississippi.
“I would be shocked if it’s not also the deadliest year in Missouri’s history, we are seeing increases in three cities, how is it not possible for this to be the deadliest year,” said Ken Novak, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City…
In Kansas City, Dr. Marvia Jones, violence prevention and policy manager at the city health department, has been working closely with violence interrupters and community workers as they grapple with both rising homicides and the effects of the pandemic.
Jones said one reason gun violence spiked is higher unemployment rates.
In April, unemployment rates in Kansas City and St. Louis hit 11%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Unemployment has skyrocketed, and we know that from the trend of high unemployment, disadvantaged communities tend to hurt more,” Jones said. “And a lot of the job loss happened in the service and retail industries, and people who work in those industries are in a lower socioeconomic bracket.”