Murders soared in 2020, according to the data (.pdf) – with the state’s murder rate reaching its highest level since 1993.
For the purposes of its report, SLED defined murder as the “willful (non-negligent) killing of one person by another.” That includes “deaths resulting from injuries received in a fight, argument, quarrel, assault or commission of a crime.” It does not include “suicides, traffic fatalities (including driving under the influence and reckless driving), fetal deaths, assaults to murder (or) attempted murders.”
Also, the report made clear the classifications are based on “police investigation, not on the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury or other judicial body.”
With those definitions in mind, let’s look at the numbers …
According to SLED, 386 (or 71.1 percent) of the 543 murder victims identified by race last year were black. Of those, 331 (or 60.9 percent of the total) were black men. And of those, 285 (or 52.4 percent of the total) were black men under the age of 44.
Translation? More often than not, murder victims in South Carolina are young, black men.
Of course, the same is true for those who committed (or are alleged to have committed) these crimes.
According to SLED, of the 608 people arrested as a murder “offender” last year, 461 (or 75.8 percent) are black. Of those, 409 (or 67.3 percent of the total) are black men. And of those, 380 (or 62.5 percent) are black men under the age of 44.
As of the 2020 U.S. Census, South Carolina’s black population stood at 27 percent.
Demographic data for murder offenders was not included in the original SLED report, however an updated version of this document is currently being prepared for dissemination.
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Unsurprisingly, murders were more prevalent in population centers – especially those areas of the state which have been experiencing robust growth.
In Charleston and Greenville counties – two of the fastest growing regions of the state – murders climbed from 46 to 56 (a 21.7 percent increase) and 34 to 43 (a 26.5 percent increase), respectively. In Richland county, where growth has been stagnant, murders dipped from 53 to 42 – a decline of 20.7 percent.
Other population centers saw murders rise precipitously. In Horry county, there were 33 murders reported last year – more than twice the 15 reported in 2019. Similarly in York county there were 19 murders reported last year compared to nine the previous year.
The biggest uptick took place in rural Dillon county, where 23 murders were reported in 2020 – more than three times as many as were reported in 2019.
According to SLED, firearms were used as the murder weapon in 84 percent of cases – and in 58 percent of cases the offender was either an acquaintance, “intimate” or family member.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, in addition to having lots of kids he has LOTS of hats (including that Minnesota Twins’ lid pictured above).
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