The FBI reported last week that murders rose by 29.4 percent in the United States in 2020 compared to the previous year — one of the largest single-year increases ever recorded in the country’s recorded history.
Four, possibly five, people were killed in Wharton County last year, in comparison to one in 2019.
A still unidentified body found June 18 off CR 225 makes the count uncertain. The 14- to 17-year-old girl had been dead three to six months before she was found, dead from multiple gunshots to the head.
So far this year, four murders have taken place in Wharton County, with six people charged with murder and one with two counts of intoxication manslaughter for his alleged role in a July 18 fatal crash in Wharton.
In all, 14 people are awaiting trial in Wharton County courts right now for homicides while another stands accused of trying to kill three police officers.
The FBI’s data shows that 21,570 homicides were reported nationwide in 2020, which is 4,901 more than in 2019.
The overall violent crime rate, including murders, assault, rape, and robbery, was up by about 5 percent, while property crimes decreased by 8 percent in 2020, the data show.
In 2020, there were 45 violent-crime incidents reported to the National Incident-Based Reporting System database by the El Campo Police Department. Of those, 33 were aggravated assaults, three rapes and seven robberies. The 2019 numbers were 39 violent incidents, of which 27 were aggravated assaults, eight robberies and four rapes.
The Wharton Police Department, reported 24 violent crime incidents in 2020 – 18 aggravated assaults, five robberies and one rape. In 2019, those numbers were 40 violent incidents (23 aggravated assaults, 13 robberies and four rapes).
The 2020 report from the Wharton County Sheriff’s Department included 50 violent crime incidents with 46 aggravated assaults, three robberies and one rape. The 2019 report indicates 54 violent crimes – 41 of which were aggravated assault, four robberies and eight rapes.
“In 2020, there were an estimated 1,277,696 violent crimes,” the FBI said in a statement. “When compared with the estimates from 2019, the estimated number of robbery offenses fell 9.3 percent and the estimated volume of rape (revised definition) offenses decreased 12.0 percent.
“Nationwide, there were an estimated 6,452,038 property crimes. The estimated numbers for two of the three property crimes showed declines when compared with the previous year’s estimates.”
The FBI also reported that burglaries and larceny-thefts declined by 7.4 percent and 10.6 percent respectively, while motor vehicle thefts rose by 11.8 percent.
Some police groups have said that the rise in crime can be at least partially attributed to the anti-police animus that arose during Black Lives Matter protests and riots in 2020, sparked by George Floyd’s death. In late June, the National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP) tied the associated “defund the police” movement to a rise in homicides nationwide.