Homicides in Kern County break 2019 record, police say gang violence plays a major factor

Bakersfield Police Department (FILE)
Posted at 5:05 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 21:03:06-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — So far this year 121 people have lost their lives on Kern County streets. In just the last 24 hours three people were killed. One person was killed on Flower and Miller streets Tuesday night around 6 p.m. KCSO is still investigating that death. And just hours later two more people were killed at Terrace Way and Hughes Lane. That shooting happened around 3 a.m.

23ABC's Tori Cooper has more on what the Bakersfield Police Department is saying are some contributing factors to homicide spikes and if Kern is the only county in the state dealing with a spike.

Shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday Kern County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to the area of Hughes Lane and Terrace Way where three shooting victims were found in the area. Two died at the scene and a third person was taken to a hospital in critical condition. At this time, KCSP is unable to confirm any suspect information.

But that was not the only deadly shooting that took place recently.

Just before 6 p.m. Monday night another shooting victim was located in East Bakersfield. The victim made it to the hospital but later died.

These two incidents now mark 121 homicides so far this year. By December 2019 there were 89 homicides, according to data 23ABC has collected so far from law enforcement.

Bakersfield Police Sgt. Robert Pair said it's clear gangs play a role in the increase.

"On an average year gang involvement accounts for roughly half of the homicides typically," said Pair.

And Bakersfield isn't alone.

San Diego is also seeing a spike in homicides. From January to June 2020, 52 homicides were reported, an increase of 37%, compared to the same time in 2019. This according to a new report by the Sandag Criminal Justice Research Division. However, fewer homicides in San Diego were contributed to gangs according to the report.

But the BPD said it's unclear if the pandemic is playing a role in the spike.

"Does it factor in? I don't know and anyone I talk to they don't appear to know but it is something that we didn't experience in 2019," said Pair.

23ABC also reached out to Tulare County, and the City of Fresno to see if they were experiencing a spike in homicides but have not heard back at this time. There is still no suspect information from the double homicide that took place here Wednesday morning.