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Cincinnati's 73 homicides in 2019: Report shows many victims had "low-risk" lifestyles



CINCINNATI (WKRC) - City Council will soon get a report that takes a look at the homicides in Cincinnati and some insight into what's causing them.

Seventy-three people were killed in 2019. Many of them weren't doing anything wrong, according to police.

There are all kinds of people in this report -- different races; some are teens; some are small children. And out of 73, police say 22 were living low-risk lifestyles and were not into any criminal activity.

Every face has a name and a family. For the family of Eric Shields, the pain of having a loved one shot and killed is not new. Shields' mother, Kelli Walton, was murdered in 2010.

"My daughter, she was at home looking at TV and her oldest daughter's father came through the window and shot her seven times," said Shields' grandmother and Kelli's mother, Mary Walton.

Shields and his sisters, Cassidy and Chloe, were there. In 2019, Shields was gunned down while hanging out in his West End neighborhood.

"He said, 'Nana, it's hot out here. I'm coming in the house,' and that was 8:30 that night. About 10:30, that's when they called me and told me he had been shot," Mary said.

Shields was one of 73 homicides in 2019. Assistant Police Chief Mike John will give a presentation to City Council highlighting the trends in the homicides. And the number of people shot and killed while minding their own business stands out.

"Out of the 73, approximately 50 of those individuals are engaged in what we would call a 'high-risk lifestyle.' And then we look at the other victims that generally are just people that you would see walking down the street," said John.

People like Brandon Phoenix, who was waiting for a bus. Shauna Gilbert, who looked out of her Avondale window and was hit by a bullet in front of her kids. And Neko Larkin, coming from work and killed on a Metro bus.

Police point out it's important to get justice for all of the victims regardless of their circumstances.

"Every single person that was a victim of a homicide was loved by somebody," John said.

But the point is, victims of homicide are not always living high-risk lifestyles. Many, like Shields, were simply trying to live.

"He was looking forward to basketball and looking forward to living that life and just got cut short for no reason," Mary said.

Shields' family will have a balloon release Sunday at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Price Hill at 3 p.m.

John plans to present his report to council's Law and Public Safety Committee in the next few weeks.

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