Reputation, reality disconnect in violent death stats

When it comes to violent death, at least, Las Vegas is a paragon of moderation.

Clark County has mirrored the decline of the nation’s homicide rate in the past decade, with a rate only slightly above the national average.

In 2005, six people in the U.S. were killed per every 100,000 residents, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2013 the national rate had dropped to five per 100,000.

During that time, the rate dropped from nine Southern Nevadans killed per 100,000 people to 5.4 per 100,000 — just two-tenths higher than the national average of 5.2.

Las Vegas police investigator Ken Hefner spent 12 of his 31 years with the force working homicides. He attributed the decline to two factors: more police on the streets and broader societal trends.

“How do you prevent murder? It’s hard to do, but having enough cops helps,” he said. “You may be able to suppress temper-fueled outbursts.”

He also said that when society at large is doing well, “people don’t have as many reasons to get angry and kill each other.”

Hefner wasn’t surprised by the homicide data.

For instance, the majority, 77 percent, of those who died violently were men, according to Southern Nevada homicide data from Jan. 1, 2005, to the end of August, obtained through the Clark County coroner’s office. In the decade of data reviewed by the Review-Journal, 1,655 cases — 1,281 men —were killed.

Most of the homicide victims were young adults. Those 16 to 30 years old made up just 39 percent of the homicide cases, trailed by those 31 to 50 years old at 36 percent. In contrast, people 51 to 95 years old made up 16 percent of the county’s homicide cases.

“In that sense we’re no different than any other city,” Hefner said. Young men “are disproportionately involved in drug and gang activity.”

“If they make it to 30, they usually remove themselves from street-level violence,” he added.

Racial demographics for young adults who were killed also fall in line with national homicide trends. Of victims 16 to 30 years old, about 40 percent were black, 33 percent were Hispanic and 23 percent were white, according to the coroner’s data.

Blacks make up only 12 percent of the population in Clark County, according to 2014 Census estimates. Hispanics account for 30 percent of the county population. Whites make up 72 percent.

The majority — 69 percent— of victims aged 31 to 50 were white. Fourteen percent of people killed in this age range were black, followed by Hispanics at 8 percent.

Hefner said it’s been his experience that the bulk of homicide victims were involved in dangerous practices such as dealing drugs and running with street gangs. Domestic violence that escalates to homicide is equally common.

“They’re still victims. There is still someone to hold accountable,” he said. “They’re just engaged in risky behavior.”

Only about one in 10 of his cases involved a victim who did not put themselves in a dangerous situation.

In 136 of the cases, or 8 percent, the victims were juveniles under 15 years, of which 49 were younger than a year old and 46 were younger than 5.

“We have, unfortunately, too many of those,” Hefner said, adding that toddlers and infants are the most vulnerable and often killed by their caretakers.

For victims 15 years old and younger

The data also revealed where people die from violent attacks. The most common place to die — in nearly half the cases — after a violent attack is, unsurprisingly, a hospital. The next most common place is in or near a residence, which includes houses, apartments, courtyards, garages and parking lots., the majority (37 percent) were white, with blacks and Hispanics accounting for about a quarter of the children killed.

Only four people were killed at a bar or lounge in the past decade, according to the coroner’s data.Parking lots and roadways are also common places for people to be killed, at nearly 100 cases for each location of that type over the past 10 years. Eighteen people were killed in hotels and motels, and three people were killed at casinos.

There is, however, one factor that recurs in the county’s homicides that is unique to the region: The coroner’s data show “desert areas” are frequent homicide scenes. This includes vacant lots and areas outside of town, where Hefner said it is common to dump bodies.

“Sometimes they were taken out in the desert and killed there,” he said. “But they were most likely dumped there.”

Instruments of Death

The coroner’s data don’t paint a complete picture of why a homicide happened, but the FBI collects information from Henderson and Las Vegas police about how people were killed.

From 2010 through 2013, 193 people were killed with a handgun — the most common weapon. 

The next most popular murder weapon were firearms of an unspecified type (77 cases), according to the FBI.

The rarest murder weapon? According to the FBI data, it’s also a kind of firearm. In the four years the Review-Journal looked at, only one person was murdered with an “unknown” type of gun. Long guns — rifles or shotguns — were used in just 13 cases.

But Southern Nevadan homicide victims were killed with many other instruments. Fifty-six people were killed with knives and cutting or stabbing tools, such as ice picks and screwdrivers. Hammers, clubs and other blunt objects were used in 44 cases, and 25 people were killed by an assailant’s hands, feet or other body parts, including teeth, according to the FBI.

Hefner said in many cases it comes down to convenience.

“It’s what’s nearby,” he said. “Domestic violence (homicides) can be spontaneous. People use what’s at hand.”

But he also said there’s been a change in temperament.

“I think there’s a lot more short fuses,” he said. “What would be a fight in the old days would be gunfire today.”

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0391. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl

ad-high_impact_4
News
Las Vegas shooting survivor has surprise reunion
Oct. 1 mass shooting survivors Taylor Stovall and Parker Gabel meet for the first time since Gabel helped the injured Stovall to an ambulance the night of the shooting. Stovall, then 17, was shot in the arm. They met Friday at the Tropicana.
Hawaii volcano presser
Talmadge Magno of Hawaii Civil Defense gives an update on the Kilauea volcano
Same-Sex Weddings on the Rise in Las Vegas
Allie and Tara Shima finally tied the knot. They've been together for five years and have both been married before. This time, they wanted something simple, quick and cheap, but it still had to feel special. The couple chose Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Courtyard Homeless Resource Center begins building in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Ward 3 Councilman Bob Coffin kicked off the demolition of buildings where the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center will be built. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
"Yanny" or "Laurel" hearing test has gone viral
'Yanny' or 'Laurel?' This Hearing Test Has Gone Viral This hearing test has gone viral on social media with some hearing "Yanny" while others swear hearing "Laurel." The voice is actually saying "Laurel," but the pitch was changed, causing some to hear "Yanny."
LVMPD Briefs on Year's Sixth Officer-Involved Shooting
Las Vegas police have identified the officer who shot a shovel-wielding woman on Saturday as 23-year-old Ondre Wills.
Police release body camera footage of shovel-wielding woman
Las Vegas police identified the woman they said threatened neighbors with a skillet Saturday night. Officer Ondre Wills, 23, shot at Sommer Richards, 34, multiple times on Big Sur Drive, near Nellis Boulevard and Desert Inn Road. Police responded to the area after receiving reports that the woman was armed with a shovel. Police said the woman chased neighbors and a security guard. Wills got between Richards and the others and repeatedly told her to drop the shovel. The woman instead turned and moved toward a person who was standing nearby before the officer fired shots. Police said she bit another officer as he attempted to render aid. Richards remains in serious but stable condition.
College of Southern Nevada Graduates 2017-18 Class
The College of Southern Nevada's graduation ceremony was held at the Thomas & Mack Center Monday. The 2017-18 class was the institution's largest in history. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro looking for suspect in bank robbery.
On Jan. 22, a man robbed a bank in the 8700 block of West Sahara Avenue.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee at opening of U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, at opening ceremony of U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, speaks about the violence in Gaza. (Debra J. Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Supreme Court strikes down law banning sports betting outside Nevada
The Supreme Court has overturned a federal ban on sports gambling. States other than Nevada will be allowed to provide bookmaking and betting at casinos and race tracks. Justice Samuel Alito said Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, “each State is free to act on its own.” The vote was 6-3. One research firm estimates that 32 states will likely offer sports betting within five years.
Westcare Clinic Crucial to Las Vegan's Addiction Recovery
Christian Hunt, 21, was sent to Westcare in September after he ended up on drugs and in the hospital. If it weren't for the nonprofit's Community Triage Center, Hunt said he would still be using drugs. Instead, he's been sober for six months, and stopped using methamphetamines seven months ago. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Foundation Provides Full Rides for Clark County Students
Somewhere along the banks of the Ohio River in Owensboro, Kentucky, a group of students from Sin City are pursuing a higher education. Feature on the 38 Clark County students that the Rogers Foundation has given full rides to for Kentucky Wesleyan College. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Flames engulf house in Henderson
Clark County firefighters battled a house fire early Friday morning in Henderson. The house, located near Volunteer Boulevard and Executive Airport Drive, was fully engulfed in flames about 2 a.m. Shifting winds sent massive plumes of smoke across the southern Las Vegas Valley sky. As of 3 a.m. , the cause of the fire was not known and no injuries were reported.
Harvey Weinstein’s Estranged Wife Speaks Out for First Time
Harvey Weinstein’s Estranged Wife Speaks Out for First Time Georgina Chapman was profiled for 'Vogue’s' June issue, speaking on her estranged husband for the first time since he was accused of sexual assault in October. Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Chapman, who has two children with Weinstein, also said she has been seeing a therapist and that has helped her move forward. Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Read the full profile on Chapman in Vogue’s June issue or online at Vogue.com.
Bark-Andre Furry the dog is a Vegas Golden Knights hockey fan
The furriest fan of the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights is growing into a social media sensation. Bark-Andre Furry the Jack Russell terrier has thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspect Sought In Robbery Attempt
Attorney Gloria Allred on case against Benjamin Sparks
Attorney Gloria Allred is representing the victim in a "sex slave" case against GOP political consultant Benjamin Sparks.
2018 Las Vegas Review-Journal High School Journalism Awards winners
Some winners of the 2018 Las Vegas Review-Journal High School Journalism Awards receive their awards.
Weather Balloon Collects Key Data
Meteorologist Chelsea Kryston discusses the Las Vegas National Weather Service's balloon carrying a radiosonde that collects temperature, humidity and pressure readings.
'Avengers: Infinity War' to Cross $1 Billion Mark
'Avengers: Infinity War' to Cross $1 Billion Mark And it will have done so faster than any other film in history. The Anthony and Joe Russo directed film has only been in theaters for eight days since its Apr. 27 release, and it’s already raked in $905.1 million at the worldwide box office, including $338.4 million in North America. It will reach the milestone faster than ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ which took 12 days to cross over the $1 billion threshold. ‘Infinity War’ is the 34th film to cross $1 billion at the global box office, not accounting for inflation.
Henderson Residents Fighting Their HOA
Sun City Anthem residents Tim Stebbins and Bob Frank were arrested by the Henderson Police Department for filing a false report of a crime after they claimed their HOA was hiding surplus assessments in a secret slush fund. Nearly a decade later, Frank is still trying to clear his name. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Professor Retiring After 50 Years
Professor Bernard Malamud reflects on his 50 years teaching economics at UNLV and what it's been like watching to school and the city grow.
Donald Trump recognizes Jon Ponder of Hope for Prisoners
Former bank robber Jon Ponder, now CEO of Hope for Prisoners, is recognized by President Donald Trump at the White House Rose Garden. Debra J. Saunders/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Motorcyclist suffers severe head injury
A crash early Friday morning has left a motorcyclist hospitalized with a serious head injury, according to Las Vegas police. The crash occurred in the southwest valley at Durango Drive and the 215 Beltway, and was reported around 1:30 a.m. Police are investigating and one lane of the eastbound 215 offramp has been shut down.
Woman stabbed in the stomach
Las Vegas police are looking for the suspect who stabbed a woman in the stomach during a street robbery Friday morning in the central valley. The 37-year-old woman walked into the 7-Eleven at 531 E. Sahara Ave., around 1:30 a.m. with a wound to her abdomen, according to police. She was taken to a local hospital and is expected to survive her wound. The stabber remains at-large.
Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize Eighteen House members sent a letter to the Nobel Committee in Norway, recommending President Donald Trump for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. The letter was signed by Rep. Luke Messer and other GOP members, according to the New York Post. Letter to Nobel Committee This week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Trump deserved the nomination, as well, for his efforts to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons. Trump is set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un soon.
Bodycam video: Las Vegas police breach gunman’s door during Oct. 1 shooting
Las Vegas police released body camera footage that depicts the moment officers breached Oct. 1 gunman Stephen Paddock’s Mandalay Bay suite.
McCaw School of Mines welcomes its 100,000th visitor
The McCaw School of Mines simulated underground mine attraction has been welcoming field trips and other visitors since 1996. On April 30, they welcomed the 100,000th visitor. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Academy learns to Stop the Bleed
Teachers, faculty and staff at Las Vegas Academy and other schools in the Clark County School District are undergoing "Stop the Bleed" training. Participants learn to apply a tourniquet, pack a wound and apply pressure to stop bleeding. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like