KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As of now, the Knoxville Police Department says it has had 19 homicides this year. All of them were fatal shootings.
That includes the officer-involved shooting of Anthony Thompson Jr.
This time last year, there were 13 homicides. Eleven of those victims were killed by gun violence.
“We really want to work with our local law enforcement, we want to work with our community, and make Knoxville and the surrounding area safer for everyone,” said Stacey Payne, East TN Valley Crime Stoppers Coordinator.
That’s the mission behind the new East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers tool launched in Knoxville. The organization says it’s important now, more than ever.
“With Crime Stoppers, they don’t have to be afraid. They can remain 100 percent anonymous and just tell us what they saw,” Payne said.
The Knoxville Police Department also provided shots-fired data. For KPD’s purposes, a shot-fired incident is logged if someone was struck by gunfire or there is evidence that a gun was fired.
This year, from Jan. 1 – May 16, according to the data collected by Crime Analysis, there have been 185 reports of shots fired with 42 of those resulting in injury or death.
Compare that to the same time frame last year, in 2020, there were 147 reports of shots fired with 29 of those resulting in injury or death.
The year before that, in 2019, from Jan. 1 – May 17, there were 93 reports of shots fired with 29 resulting in injury.
“I think it’s more appalling and more eye-opening because when you think of Knoxville, the crime rate doesn’t seem that high, that doesn’t happen that often,” said Derrick Furlow Jr. with 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville.
Furlow has a passion for making a difference, mentoring young men to help keep them on the right path and steer clear of violence.
Furlow had this message following two deadly days in the city: “You are worth it. You can be more and you can do more and you can have more. You are not confined to your environment, you don’t have to become a product of your environment, and there is hope.”
A Knoxville Police spokesperson said the rise in numbers can be attributed to two things:
One — that gun violence has been steadily increasing over the past couple of years.
Two — that the department is investing more time and resources into following up on shots fired calls where there was no initial or obvious evidence that a shooting had occurred, which has resulted in increased documentation.