Violent trend emerges in Knoxville with more shootings in 2020

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On the last day of 2020 one trend in Knoxville stood out. Violent crime happened more often in the city.

Shooting statistics for each year dating back to 2015 show a dangerous trend. Police responded to 27 fatal shootings in 2020 that left at least one person dead. In some cases, multiple people died in those incidents. For example, in March three people were killed in one shooting incident. On average, in the last five years, that number was roughly 18. That’s a 50% increase in deadly shootings for 2020.

Shots Fired Incidents Resulting in Death:
2015 – 18
2016 – 15
2017 – 25
2018 – 16
2019 – 18
2020 – 27

Police also responded to more shots fired calls that left people hurt. There were 116 incidents this year. That’s compared to an average of 83 in the five previous years. This equated to a 40% increase in shootings resulting in injury this year alone.

Shots Fired with Victim Incidents:
2015 – 83
2016 – 80
2017 – 93
2018 – 82
2019 – 75
2020 – 116

Police also headed out to more shots fired calls as a whole. This number, however, requires context. In 2020 police report there were 469 shots fired incidents total. That jumped from 302 the year before that. They said though violent crime is happening more often in the city, they are also documenting these incidents differently.

Shots Fired Incidents:
2015 – 212
2016 – 234
2017 – 264
2018 – 241
2019 – 302
2020 – 469

In 2020, Knoxville police said they put a focus on following-up with shots fired calls in a different way than years past. A specialized unit called the GUN Team began handling these reports. Police said prior to 2020 it is possible that more shots fired incidents went unreported or undocumented. This could explain some of the increase, but police still said violent crime numbers were going up in Knoxville.

The numbers above for 2020 go through December 27, which is when WATE 6 On Your Side requested this information to have it available to viewers. All previous years’ statistics include the full year. These numbers give an idea of shooting trends for Knoxville. We will continue to follow up with police to understand the numbers and any further trends that form.

The community has been responsive to these shootings in 2020 as well.

In June, people marched to bring awareness to gun violence. By August, after a double-homicide, residents and religious leaders were demanding an end to the shootings. Come September, the Vice-Mayor held a virtual town hall addressing the uptick in violence.

As of this story’s publishing, the most recent gun violence incident on which we reported occurred Dec. 30. Knoxville Police is investigating the alleged drive-by shooting, which had been caught on a home security camera.

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