Shootings in Louisville double during pandemic while families cope with new ways to grieve

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —
Since the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Kentucky, shootings in Louisville Metro have nearly doubled.

“Unfortunately, violence fueled by drug dealing and abuse, gang disputes, and in some cases, domestic violence are not deterred by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Directives to stay home do not generally influence those who are determined to commit crimes,” Chief Steve Conrad said in a statement to WHAS11.

According to data from LMPD, there have been 57 shootings and 14 homicides between March 6 and April 19, 2020. In the same six week period during 2019, there were 32 shootings and 13 homicides.

“That’s a problem,” Game Changers Executive Director and community activist, Christopher 2X, said. “All of us feel at some level powerless to do the things we used to do with families that are impacted by these issues, whether it be a family at University Hospital with a non-fatal [shooting victim], because everything has changed up there.”

In November of 2019, Game Changers released a report documenting the impact violence can have on children. He explained that while the pandemic changes our ‘normal,’ it also changes the way we must now grieve.

“With this reckless gunplay behavior, the lives that they are impacting, they might not ever recognize what they’re doing to families under this virus atmosphere.”

Loved ones are no longer able to gather at hospitals, or at funerals and cemeteries. Christopher 2X said this is especially frustrating when we think about the how many of the victims in the last six weeks were young.

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“While the pandemic is not directly causing more violence, it is making the entire environment more challenging right now. Young people are not in school, community centers and libraries are closed and other positive outlets are not available – which leaves some members of our community more vulnerable to crime,” Conrad said.

15 teenagers have been shot since March 6, and 5 killed, according to LMPD.

“It’s very heartbreaking. I can’t imagine losing my child and then having to go through this,” Spring Valley Funeral Home Director, Anthony Oxendine, who has watched families be forced to mourn six feet apart, said.

“It just breaks my heart every time I see this at a church that they can’t have their family come. It is devastating to me.”

Oxendine would like to see rules change so that families can at least grieve together. In the meantime, he hopes people will reconsider the effects gun violence has on families, even moreso now during such uncertain times.

You can read the full statement from Police Chief Steve Conrad here:

“We are seeing a significant increase in violence – particularly non-fatal shootings – right now in our city. Unfortunately, violence fueled by drug dealing and abuse, gang disputes, and in some cases, domestic violence are not deterred by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Directives to stay home do not generally influence those who are determined to commit crimes.

Officers and investigators with LMPD are working diligently to solve these homicides and shootings. Our major crimes detectives are working every lead they can find and have made some arrests in these recent incidents.

While the pandemic is not directly causing more violence, it is making the entire environment more challenging right now. Young people are not in school, community centers and libraries are closed and other positive outlets are not available – which leaves some members of our community more vulnerable to crime. Officers trying to prevent and solve crime must operate in a situation where they are stressed about the virus as well.

The issues causing the violence we see right now are as large and complex as this pandemic. What we’ve seen with COVID-19 is that we can impact the devastation of a virus if we come together. We can do the same for violence and we need the community’s help to do that.”

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