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Sacramento homicides surge by 26% in 2020, ending streak of zero youth deaths

In 2020 alone, a total of 43 people died by homicide, four of whom were juveniles, according to the Sacramento Police Department.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Homicide cases were up by 26% in Sacramento in 2020, Sacramento Police say.

After spending two full years without any youth homicides, four juveniles were killed in 2020. The youngest being 9-year-old Makalah Brent who was shot at Mama Marks Park.

"So, it's definitely a reversal of what we've seen over the last couple of years," Chief Daniel Hahn of the Sacramento Police Department said.

In 2020 alone, a total of 43 people died by homicide. It's a 26% increase compared to 2019 when that number was 34 with zero youth homicides.

"The increase is something that is very, very troubling," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.

For years, Mervin Brookins, Founder and CEO of Brother to Brother Mentoring, has been working with at-risk teens and young men re-entering society for years. He said the hard work they put in has been flipped upside down during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The social and emotional impact it had on our young folks, whose lives were interrupted, they didn't have outlets, normal outlets, that they normally would engage in," Brookins said.

He believes many youths turned to social media as their only outlet during the pandemic. 

"With social media comes a lot of negativity. That negatively impacts the mindset of our youth and I think that's what fed a lot of the animosity and anger and some of the beef that we've seen transpire over the last year," he said.

Hahn said the increase in numbers comes from a variety of different contributing factors, not just the pandemic.

"For example, our specialty units, whether it's our problem-oriented policing officers or our gang officers, they've been pulled out of our communities to work protests. So they haven't had a presence. They haven't been working as much as they normally do in our communities," Hahn said.

Moving forward, Steinberg said he wants to see even more investment in young people to help provide safer alternatives.

"As mayor of this city, I take all of this personally, even if I don't know the people, because I love this city and when people are hurt or killed it affects me. It affects all of us," he said.

It's a similar story for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office as homicides in county boundaries have increased by 25%. 

In the county there were 55 total homicides in 2020, three of whom were juveniles, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office.

In 2019 in the county there were a total of 44 homicides, including two juveniles.

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