Gary homicides

Police investigate a fatal shooting in April outside a used car lot in the 400 block of Ridge Road in Gary.

In a recent statement to the media, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson was quoted as describing a June weekend rash of shootings in her city as "an aberration" — something that was out of the norm.

The label does an injustice to the deadly tempest that appears to be brewing in the Steel City in 2018.

Last Sunday, The Times chronicled the names and deadly circumstances of all 29 homicide victims in the city since the beginning of the year.

Before the press ink on that edition was dry, Gary recorded its 30th homicide.

That count, which still held as of Friday afternoon, pushed the city more than 16 percent above last year's homicide levels.

So far this year, Gary homicides account for 66 percent of all homicides in Lake County. Meanwhile, Gary represents only 15.7 percent of the county's population, according to the most recent U.S. Census estimates.

The June 22-24 shooting glut in which one person died and 16 others were wounded wasn't an aberration, as the mayor dubbed it.

It was a clear warning sign of the danger that the mayor, her police department and all public safety officials should be facing head-on, not dismissing as out of the norm.

That only one person died out of 17 shot during the June 22-24 weekend was the true aberration. With that many bullets flying in one weekend, Gary is lucky far more weren't killed.

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Historically speaking, Gary averaged 48 murders a year between 2007 and 2016, FBI uniform crime statistics show.

That isn't an aberration. It's a steady death toll.

We understand some strides are being taken to grapple with the problem of violence — particularly involving gunfire — in Gary.

The city is particularly fortunate that Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez remains dedicated to bolstering police patrols and aiding in the investigations of previous shootings.

U.S. Attorney Thomas Kirsch II said he has designated Gary as one of the northern Indiana cities that will be the focus of Project Safe Neighborhoods. It's an effort by federal authorities to target the most violent criminals in the most violent areas.

And earlier this month, the Gary City Council transferred $50,000 in Majestic Star Casino tax proceeds to cover additional overtime for city police officers.

These measures all make sense.

What doesn't fight the problem is dismissing ongoing, in some cases increasing and well-documented, violence as an aberration.

Such labels are one step shy of dismissing or ignoring a major threat to society.



Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.