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County eighth in state for young homicide victims

POSTED February 1, 2011 10:46 p.m.

Stanislaus County has one of the worst youth homicide rates in the state according to a newly released report.

“Lost Youth: A County-by-County Analysis of 2009 California Homicide Victims Ages 10 to 24” ranked Stanislaus County eighth in the state for its rate of young homicide victims.

The study was funded by the California Wellness Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of California’s citizens. The study analyzed California Department of Justice Supplementary Homicide Report data released by the Violence Policy Center.

In Stanislaus County, the homicide victimization rate in 2009 for those between 10 years and 24 years was 13.49 per 100,000, according to the report. There were 16 homicides in the county that had victims in that age range.

San Joaquin County ranked seventh with a rate of 13.86 per 100,000 and Merced County was ninth with a rate of 12.87 per 100,000. Monterey County was the worst in the state with a rate of 31.24 per 100,000, nearly three times the overall state rate.

“Comparing county by county the homicide rates for youth and young adults in California shows the continuing, urgent need for tailored, localized approaches to reducing youth homicide that integrate prevention and intervention while engaging local leaders and community stakeholders,” said Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director and the study’s co-author.

There were 803 10 to 24 year old homicide victims in California in 2009. Some of the findings in the study include:

• 90 percent were male and 10 percent were female. 

• 56 percent were Hispanic.

• 30 percent were African-American.

• 10 percent were white.

• 3 percent were Asian.

• 1 percent was classified as other.

Overall, African-American victims were killed at a rate more than 14 times higher than white victims. Hispanic victims were killed at a rate nearly four times higher than white victims.  Asian victims were killed at roughly the same rate as white victims.

• Firearms, especially handguns, were the most common weapon used to murder youth and young adults.  Of the 794 homicides for which the murder weapon could be identified, 84 percent of victims died by gunfire.  Of these, 76 percent were killed with handguns.

• For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 45 percent were killed by a stranger.  Thirty-two percent were killed by someone they knew.  An additional 23 percent were identified as gang members.  African-American and Hispanic victims were more likely to be killed by a stranger than white or Asian victims.

• The overwhelming majority of homicides of youth and young adults were not related to any other felony crime.  For the 618 homicides in which the circumstances between the victim and offender could be identified, 82 percent were not related to the commission of any other felony.  Of these, 68 percent were gang-related. 

• For all races except for Asian victims, the most common homicide location was a street, sidewalk, or parking lot. Among youth and young adults for homicides in which the location could be determined, 56 percent occurred on a street, sidewalk, or in a parking lot. Fifteen percent occurred in the home of the victim or offender.  Eleven percent occurred at another residence, and 7 percent occurred in a vehicle.

Of the 16 homicides in Stanislaus County, 15 were males and one was a female; 12 were Hispanic, two were white, one was African-American, and one was Asian. Fifteen out of the 16 were killed with guns. One was stabbed. Sixty-seven percent or 10 homicides were gang-related and three were drive-by shootings. Eighty-one percent or 13 out of the 16 homicides happened on a street, sidewalk, or in a parking lot. Two occurred in the home of the victim or offender and one was at another residence.

In Turlock, there were six homicides in 2009 and only one was a victim that fell into the study’s age range. Lamondrea Brown, 23, was stabbed to death in November 2009.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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