AUSTIN (KXAN) — Youth homicides in the Austin area were on the rise in 2021, officials said.
The Austin Police Department told KXAN there was a rise in the 10-19 age range in 2021, totaling 13. In 2019 and 2020, there were only three homicides in that age range. APD also said homicides involving children ages 0-9 increased to three in 2021.
In a majority of those cases, suspects were arrested.
The department said it was aware of a concerning rise in teen violence, noting in most cases, it’s teens with guns killing their peers.
Lt. Brett Bailey, who has been with the department for 25 years, told KXAN’s Britt Moreno, “Eight of 13 homicides that occurred in 2021 involved a suspect that was in that same age category. More than half of the incidents involved some sort of incident, a youthful suspect who shot and killed a youthful victim. That is the one trend that I can say that does stick out.”
Bailey told Moreno it’s tough to identify one contributing factor, but he feels confident several issues could play into the rise in teen gun violence and teen homicides, including the fewer amount of officers on the streets.
“If we had more personnel on street in a position to remove handguns that are being possessed in vehicles in the entertainment district, that could end up having a great impact on reducing the number of violent crimes using handguns,” said Bailey.
Officers said the pandemic may have also played a role in the uptick in violent behavior, with more teenagers attending class virtually without the structure of the classroom.
APD said the department is committed to working on lowering the number of violent crimes among youth.
“The department recognizes the increase in overall violence, life-threatening violence in Austin, and everyone up to chief are looking closely at this and taking it seriously and want to do what we can do lower the amount of crimes to lower fire arms,” said Bailey.