MILWAUKEE - The last two years have been record-breaking when it comes to Milwaukee homicides, and the first three months of 2022 are outpacing that, with gun violence the lead contributor.
There are also more victims in each case so far this year. The numbers are important, but we can't lose sight of the people behind them.
As the sights and sounds of grief and pain play out on a near-daily basis on Milwaukee streets, police are tasked with finding out what happened, who did it and why. Groups in the city say they're trying to intervene before it leads to this while others are working to help victims.
"The number of incidents are increasing, as well as the number of individuals or impacted by the incidents," said Brooke Cheaton, Children's Wisconsin Project Ujima manager.
Cheaton said Project Ujima, which helps victims of violence and their families, served 500 victims of violence and their families in 2021. In 2020, that number was around 300.
"The amount of outreach we’re getting as a secondary bystander trauma is a lot, as well," said Cheaton.
Shooting at Brownstone Social Lounge in Milwaukee
The Homicide Review Commission is tracking 193 homicides, 180 by firearm in 2021, with more than 850 people wounded in shootings. Milwaukee police count 50 homicides in 42 incidents so far in 2022, up 100% over the same time span in 2021.
"There are several things that concern us," said Reggie Moore, Medical College of Wisconsin violence prevention policy and engagement director.
Moore says arguments and conflict continue to be the source. It's not confined to any one part of the city.
"It’s about being surgical in terms of where are the incidents of gun violence concentrated? What are the factors that are driving that?" said Moore.
Fatal shooting near 91st and Appleton, Milwaukee
He says the coronavirus pandemic is driving homicides and non-fatal shootings up after four years of decline.
"Have to return to that momentum," said Moore.
He says everyone has a role in de-escalating situations to stop violence before it starts.
Moore credits efforts like the city's Office of Violence Prevention, where he used to work, for stopping incidents before they start. The head of the city's Health Department says that the office is a priority and will soon announce more violence prevention plans.