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Columbus Ties Its Record For Number Of Homicides

Columbus Police vehicles outside the division headquarters.
David Holm

Columbus has tied the record it set last year for number of homicides. Two shootings this week brought that total to 177.

Local residents Eric Washington Jr. and Derrick Samuels Jr. were fatally shot in separate incidents on Monday, contributing to the trend of increased violence in the city. No suspects in the cases have been arrested.

The tie comes after Columbus police announced last week that they reclassified two deaths last year as homicides, prompting them to revise the total for 2020 to 177.

Co-founder of the nonprofit Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children Malissa Thomas-St. Clair called the recent spike in violence an epidemic.

“It is a dire need for the community to wake up," said Thomas-St. Clair. "We’ve played the blame game enough. We have put the blame on the mayor, we’ve put the blame on the Columbus Division of Police, we’ve put the blame everywhere but ourselves as a community at large.”

Thomas-St. Clair said one key to reversing the trend of violence in Columbus is for area residents to spend less time voicing frustration online and more time supporting and getting involved with programs for at-risk youth.

“Start to reiterate what we want out of them by having crime prevention programs that are consistent and data-driven,” said Thomas-St. Clair.

Thomas-St. Clair added that a range of factors influenced by the pandemic, from employment being halted to courts shutting down, helped to create an environment ripe for crime.

“And it just became a tornado that we couldn’t stop," she said. "It was a perfect storm of perfect opportunity for those that wanted to take advantage of the system.”