“The homicides have really gone across the spectrum in terms of who was involved and the circumstances in which are involved,” Biehl said. “So there’s no common theme emerging out of this spike in homicides.”
Dayton police statistics show that the city has had 99 violent injuries from firearms in the past 12 months, down from 110 in the 12 months before that. The chief said shootings turn into fatals for a variety of reasons.
“One of the most important (factors) is going to be proximity, if it’s a firearm use,” Biehl said. “The greater the distance, the less likely somebody is going to be hit by a bullet. It has to do with caliber. It has to do with how many times a person is shot.
“It has to do with where somebody is shot in their body. It has to do with how quickly or not they get emergency medical services. So there’s a lot of factors that drive whether a gun crime with injury becomes a homicide.”
The jump in homicides hasn’t been unique to Dayton. Trotwood — which had two double homicides earlier this year —has had seven homicides by gun, including one Tuesday, and a vehicular homicide investigation. There have been three homicides in Harrison Twp. in 2016, two in the past week.
Countywide, the coroner’s office (which does count justifiable killings) reports 39 homicides through Aug. 16 — a pace that would result in 62 for the year. That’s more than the 55 homicides in Montgomery County in 2013, the 42 in 2014 and the 49 in 2015.
“The number of homicides in our community is disappointing and alarming,” Montgomery County Prosecutor Mat Heck Jr. said. “The number of homicides across the nation seems to be on an upswing after years of declines.
“The homicide problem is very complicated, and like many things in life, there is no one cause or a simple solution. Whether these homicides are gang related, drug related, or domestic violence related, there is no ‘one size fits all’ fix.”
Montgomery County homicides, 2016
Heck said the cures to the homicide problem are as varied as its root causes.
“The economy could be better; the unemployment rate could be lower; there could be better job training programs for youth; there could be better re-entry programs for those returning to our community from incarceration, and there could be better drug prevention and treatment programs,” Heck said. “All of these could contribute to fewer homicides. Still, those who commit homicide must be held strictly accountable, and there must be serious consequences and punishment.”
Biehl said the trend is disheartening and discouraging, but that the killings are not random acts.
“It is absolutely tragic that there has been this increase in homicides this year,” Biehl said. “Just generally speaking, there’s just a lot of guns in this country, just a lot of guns out there in the public domain so I don’t think it’s a challenge for somebody to get hold of a firearm if they are seeking one.”