Lexington not alone in escalation of gun violence in 2021

Lexington not alone in escalation of gun violence in 2021
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 4:40 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Family and friends are mourning the loss of a Lexington teenager.

The coroner says 14-year-old Larry Morales was shot and killed Thursday night on Betsy Lane, off Price Road.

The teen’s death is the city’s 37th homicide. It’s the most homicides Lexington has seen in a year, shattering 2020′s record of 34.

Bullet holes scar multiple cars along the street on Betsy Lane from the shooting that killed Morales. Ane neighbor told us she heard as many as nine or 10 gunshots and believes Morales may have been trying to take cover behind a parked camper.

Now, a teddy bear marks a memorial beside the bloody grass.

Lexington isn’t alone in the escalation of violence.

“As we start getting the collection of data from the different police departments across the nation, the overriding factor is: this is a record year, this is a record year,” said Mark Bryant, executive director of Gun Violence Archive.

Nationwide, Bryant says the 20,000 plus killed and 40,000 plus injured in shootings in 2021 are numbers not seen since well before the Gun Violence Archive started tracking shooting statistics almost nine years ago.

“It’s just constant,” said Bryant. “And the question becomes, ‘where do these kids get the guns?’ That’s the question we keep wanting to ask and nobody seems to want to answer.”

Of Lexington’s 37 homicides, all but one were shootings. Eight victims were 18 or younger. Two, including Morales, were as young as 14 years old.

With the impromptu memorial on Betsy Lane and a growing one on nearby Price Road for 17-year-old Sergio Villarados, who was shot and killed in October, you don’t need to tell these neighbors the cost of gun violence. They already drive past a reminder every day.

We’ve been tracking gun violence in Lexington all year. This year will end with more shootings than last year. Through December 31, at least 170 people have been shot, with 36 of those shootings being deadly.

In 2020, 167 people were shot and 27 of those people died.

The number was even lower in 2019, 24 people were killed in 134 shootings.

Police have not made any arrests in the latest deadly shooting.

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