ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The recent violent crime in unexpected neighborhoods might have you more concerned about crime in the city.
News 4 did some checking and learned that violent crime is up in several of the city’s most popular entertainment districts. St. Louis Police say gun violence is their top priority, and the numbers explain why.
When you see the numbers in black and white, they’re startling. Downtown has had 22 armed robberies and 40 aggravated assaults with a gun so far this year. Aggravated assaults with a gun, or “gun assaults,” also include shootings. In the Central West End, police are investigating 25 armed robberies and seven gun assaults. Lafayette Square has seen two armed robberies and five gun assaults so far, and Soulard has had six armed robberies and five gun assaults. The Hill in South St. Louis has had one of each. Even more disturbing is that gun crimes are up in all of those neighborhoods except on The Hill.
No matter where you go—Downtown, the Central West End, Lafayette Square or Soulard—gun violence is on the rise. Each tourist destination has a lot of people out walking.
“That’s what attracts people there; that’s an opportunity,” St. Louis Metropolitan Police Captain and Ninth District Commander James Moran said.
He says more people mean more opportunities for gun-toting criminals.
I focused in on gun crimes in two of the city’s most popular entertainment districts, looking at armed robberies and gun assaults, which include shootings. While armed robberies in Downtown St. Louis are down 50 percent over the this time last year, assaults with a gun and shootings have nearly tripled. There were 44 armed robberies in the downtown corridor by July last year. There have been 22 so far this year. However, while there were 15 gun assaults downtown by this time last year, that’s up to an astounding 40 so far this year. Gun crimes are also up in the Central West End. There were 17 armed robberies by this time last year, and so far this year, it’s up to 25. Assaults with a gun are about the same; six by this time last year and seven so far this year. Police study these numbers every morning.
“It shows that the robberies are occurring in a smaller area, not surprisingly, where the population, and more importantly, where the pedestrian population is,” Captain Moran said. “We try to use data to help us to locate the smaller area where we can concentrate our resources and effect a difference.”
The focus is on gun crimes. Washington Avenue has been saturated with police on busy weekends, and since Megan Boken’s murder, police have been working overtime patrolling the heart of Central West End. They have Special Operations working undercover and bike cops out for extra police presence until the gunmen are caught.
To see a visual breakdown of the neighborhoods, click on the related stories.