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One local mom enters 2024 without her daughter after losing her to gun violence

Law enforcement reports the fewest homicide cases in the last 9 years
Posted at 8:13 PM, Jan 03, 2024
  • Video shows breakdown of homicide cases in 2023, photos of Veniesha Cobb, a homicide victim and her family
  • Homicide cases across the county dropped significantly for the first time in 9 years, but it doesn't make a difference for Vesha Cobb, a Bakersfield mom, who lost her daughter to gun violence on December 15th.

Many people in Bakersfield celebrated the new year with friends and loved ones, but some families in Kern County are beginning 2024 without the people they care about the most.
Not only a caring mother but a talented artist, singer, and dancer are just some of the ways Veniesha Hanks' family described her.

Her mom, Vesha Cobb, remembers going out with her to ring in the new year, but if they were not together during that time, she always got a call.

“I would get a call in the middle of the night, saying ‘Old lady wake up. Wake up old lady, it’s New Years,’” Cobb recalls.

That's a call she didn't get this year.

Cobb tells me there's no way to prepare for your child's death at the hands of another.

“Last night I was sick because it’s starting to become real to me that she’s not here,” Cobb said.

Veniesha's life now left behind in 2023, but her memory lives on in the lives of those who loved her.

When I asked if her daughters missed their mother, the girls nodded, teary-eyed as Cobb comforted the young girls.

She's a grieving mother trying to stay strong for Veniesha's three kids.

This is just one case of a confirmed 79 people killed across Kern county in 2023, as 23ABC awaits confirmation of another victim from BPD.

"It’s the 9th largest city in the state, and so this is a major city." Brent Stratton, the assistant chief of police with the Bakersfield Police Department said. "There are a lot of different things that are happening that are going on in our city at any given time, so this has been an absolute priority of the Bakersfield Police Department is reducing gun violence. We want to preserve life.”

In the last 9 years, 2023 saw the fewest homicides.

That number is down significantly compared to the 2020s record-breaking number of cases, according to 23ABC records.

Of the total homicides this past year, 23ABC's count reports 58 shootings with 4 officer-involved shootings ending with suspects dead included in that total, nine assaults, eight stabbings, and four causes of death are still unknown by 23ABC at this time.

“As our city continues to grow and our population continues to grow, it stands to reason that some of the numbers could increase as well, but we want to kind of defy that trend,” Stratton said.

These zip codes were the deadliest in the county in 2023.

The most cases fell in 93215 which encompasses Delano and rural surrounding areas where 13 people died, but six of those occurred in prison systems in the area.

The next deadliest zip code was 93307, an area covering southeast Bakersfield to Lamont where 12 people were killed.

“It’s not just looking at numbers on a paper and showing hey there was 30% less homicides. This is 11 fewer lives that were taken. There’s 11 more people alive," Stratton emphasized.

I reached out to the Kern County Sheriff's Office, but they were unavailable for an on-camera interview.

This reduction is one of many across the nation as cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago all report decreases in homicides by more than 10%.

That's a fact that doesn't change the outcome for this local mom.

“Her life was taken out a little bit too soon. She still had purpose,” Cobb said.

For more information on how you can support the family, you can hear the rest of their story here.

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