LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The FBI's annual crime report shows the number of murders in the United States rose nearly 30% in 2020, and overall violent crime spiked for the first time in four years.
Right now, Louisville has more than 150 criminal homicides for the year, a disturbing spike that's in line with the FBI report.
"That's a systemic thing. It's not just here in Louisville," St. Matthews Police Chief Barry Wilkerson said. "Obviously, we are a smaller city. We are not Detroit or Chicago, but we shouldn't be having the numbers we are having. But it is a spike all over."
For parents like Nevada and Krista Gwynn, the report doesn't tell the whole story. The Gwynns take a lot of pride in family values and are active in the lives of their children, but despite all of that, they've had multiple tragedies.
"Christian was coming home, and he was gunned down by a drive-by shooter on 43rd and Market," Krista Gwynn said.
And after losing their son to gun violence in December 2019, their daughter, Victoria, was with friends at Ballard Park in June when gunfire started. Victoria's leg was shattered, and her friend, Dejuan Coward, was shot in the head and eventually died.
Since losing their son, the Gwynns have worked to raise awareness about gun violence.
"We're at 470 non-fatal shootings this year," Nevada Gwynn said. "We think about the families a lot."
Wilkerson has nearly 30 years of experience and more than 20 years as a commander. And before coming to St. Matthews, he was a highly respected commander of the Louisville Metro Police Homicide Unit.
"The six years I was there was very stressful," he said. "But it's not even close to what the detectives endure. Their family lives, their personal lives, are disrupted. It's not like they just show up on a case, do a couple of interviews and go home."
Wilkerson said, despite working long hours, homicide detectives are on-call and ready to respond around the clock. "
They may get two hours of sleep, and the suspect is caught ,so they have to come in and do the interview on two hours sleep," he said.
He said solving cases and bringing families closure has always been a priority for homicide detectives.
"So it's not something they can just put away at the desk," he said. "It's with them when they go home, 24-7. It's a great amount of stress on those detectives."
Wilkerson said to stop the trend, police need your help.
"There's a lot of times, we know who did it. We just have to prove who did it," he said. "And I know it's tough. I'm not living in a bubble. I know it's sometimes dangerous for them to take that step out on a ledge, but they're doing the right thing."
The FBI report doesn't delve in to reasons for the surge but said gun violence was responsible for nearly 77% of the murders.
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