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Fri, Oct. 18

Maricopa County, Phoenix homicides data appear to conflict

PHOENIX — It's being called the deadliest square mile in Arizona's most populous county.

At least 10 homicides occurred in an area north of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport near 28th Street and Interstate 10 from 2016 to 2018, according to an analysis of homicide data by The Arizona Republic.

The Arizona State Prison Complex in Phoenix and the state hospital sit in the center of the square mile while dozens of abandoned, fenced-off buildings and empty hotels with faded signs dot the surrounding streets.

One hotel permanently closed its doors after six people were shot in an upstairs room earlier this year, according to the Republic.

But the homicide data paints a conflicting portrait. While the number of killings in Maricopa County and Phoenix has declined overall over the past three years, more people overall died from gunshot wounds.

At least 775 people were killed in Arizona's most populous county from 2016 through 2018, according to the newspaper's data compiled from county Medical Examiner records and reporter research.

Homicides dropped by more than 10 percent during that span. That's consistent with national homicide rates, according to Richard Rosenfeld, a criminology professor with the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

"Generally speaking, Phoenix is in line with what's happening with most other big cities," Rosenfeld told the Republic.

The manners of the 775 deaths varied from stabbings and strangulations to blunt-force trauma and poisoning. But the majority of those killed — 79 percent — died of gunshot wounds.

Phoenix had a total of 430 homicides during the three-year period, meaning there were about 27 killings per 100,000 people.

At least 167 people were killed in the city in 2016, 137 in 2017 and 126 in 2018.

By contrast, Phoenix consistently tallied more than 200 homicides per year between 1994 and 2007, according to data reported by the department to the FBI.

The most violent year was 2003 with 241 recorded homicides.

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