By Meg Farris | WWL-TV | April 25, 2023
NEW ORLEANS — Last year was the highest homicide rate in New Orleans since 1994. That’s according to numbers compiled by the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
So far this year, all types of homicide are down five percent, but does that mean there are fewer people dying from gun violence?
When it comes to violent crime, we wanted to look behind the numbers. When you hear that “shooting incidents” are down, that doesn’t take into account how many people were shot or killed in each single incident.
And then there are the hundreds of lives that could have been lost without one of the busiest medical teams at UMC.
“There’s no question the purpose of every shooting is to kill somebody. So, the firepower has absolutely increased, and we’ve seen that in each of the last three years, really since COVID,” said MCC President Rafael Goyeneche.
You may have heard that when you look at all types of homicides, they are slightly down this year compared to same time last year, but the Metropolitan Crime Commission dug deeper into the numbers.
And just looking at the number of people who have been killed by shootings this year, the number is up by four, 73 people last year, and 77 this year during the same time period, January 1-April 23.
“Many of the shootings and homicides are intentional, where the shooters are hunting down their intentional targets,” Goyeneche said.
He says the number of gunshot victims who survived in that same time frame in 2022 and 2023 is around 200, and that in part is because of the skilled medical team at the Level One Trauma Center at University Medical Center.
“We are definitely one of the busier trauma centers in the country. We are in the top 10% of overall volume in terms of trauma, and we’re probably in the top 5% for penetrating trauma,” said LSUHSC, Dr. John Hunt the UMC Trauma Medical Director.
The penetrating trauma is bullet and stab wounds.
“It’s 24/7, 365. You have a highly trained team of professionals here, nurses, physicians, surgeons E.D. docs, to try and save their life,” Dr. Hunt said.
Add to that, most recently, the trauma team has helped implement two new life-saving strategies in the field. First responders have tourniquets to stop bleeding and carry blood on board to start infusions.
“There was a little uptick probably about two years ago,” said Dr. Hunt about gunshot wounds. He adds that the numbers have stayed consistently up.
When asked if the cause of all the targeted shootings is territory, or drugs, or specifically the fentanyl on the street, Goyeneche replied, “Yes, all of the above.”