Study: Indiana has highest black homicide victimization rate in USA

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A new study says Indiana has the highest black homicide victimization rate in the country.

Indiana's rate is 34.15 per 100,000, double the national rate and eight times the overall homicide rate nationwide. That's four more victims than Missouri, the next state on the list, and 12 more than places like California and New Jersey.

"It seems like they just don't value life anymore," said Clarence Wade Havvard Sr.

The study from the Violence Policy Center is based on unpublished data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Supplementary Homicide Report. It looked at homicide rates for 2013, the most recent year for which detailed national data is available. 

The violence in central Indiana is certainly key reason for the ranking. Havvard and his wife, Ernestine, have had three sons murdered on the streets of the Circle City.
  
In 2003, a robber shot and killed Clarence Havvard Jr. His father just couldn't believe hearing it over the phone.

"Unbelievable, man, I had just never had that feeling in my life...first time to ever lose a child," said Clarence Havvard Sr.

Unfortunately, it wouldn't be his last call. Just nine months later, he received a telephone call from his eldest son, Charles Havvard.

"I answer the phone and he is like, 'I'm shot dad, I am shot.' I said, 'Call 911'," the elder Havvard said.

In 2015, another tragedy for the Havvard sons. While walking near the intersection of Cornelius and Bernard streets in Butler-Tarkington, someone shot and killed Clarence Wade Havvard, III. 

"I got a call, they said, 'Your son just got shot. Your son just got shot.' I said, 'What?'," said Havvard.

Metro Police homicide investigators suspect it was a case of mistaken identity and the gunfire was more than likely meant for someone else.  

"I was just totally numb," said Ernestine Havvard. "The first thing I said was, 'Lord, again, again.' I mean, we still have no closure with the first two."
 
All of the Havvards' sons died from gunfire as do most black homicide victims in our state, according to the Violence Policy Center study.

The Havvards keep an open Bible in their Butler-Tarkington home. It's part of their faith and strength coping with the multiple deaths in their family. 

The Havvards have also been comforted by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, whose election platform included fighting the crime rate in Indianapolis.

"Mayor Hogsett said that he was going to make sure no other mother has to go through this again," said Ernestine. "The violence has to stop."

This is the 10th year for The Violence Policy Center study on Black Homicides in the U.S., which will include more detailed information involving law enforcement fatal shootings involving blacks in the 2017 study.

See the full study here.

For INDIANA, the study finds that in 2013:

Of the 213 black homicide victims, 188 were male and 25 were female.

Thirteen black homicide victims (6 percent) were less than 18 years old and 1 victim (less than 1 percent) was 65 years of age or older. The average age was 29 years old.

When the weapon used could be identified, 90 percent of the black homicide victims (188 out of 210) were killed with guns. Of these, 59 percent (111 victims) were killed with handguns.

For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 76 percent of black homicide victims (69 out of 91) were killed by someone they knew. Twenty-two victims were killed by strangers.

For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 55 percent (73 out of 133) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 62 percent (45 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

For the entire UNITED STATES, the study finds that in 2013:

There were 6,217 black homicide victims in the United States. Blacks represented 13 percent of the nation’s population, yet accounted for 50 percent of all homicide victims.

The black homicide victimization rate in the United States was 16.91 per 100,000. In comparison, the overall national homicide victimization rate was 4.27 per 100,000. For whites, the national homicide victimization rate was 2.54 per 100,000.

Of the 6,217 black homicide victims, 5,381 were male and 836 were female. The homicide victimization rate for black male victims was 30.59 per 100,000. The homicide victimization rate for female black victims was 4.36 per 100,000.

For homicides in which the weapon used could be identified, 84 percent of black victims (4,960 out of 5,891) were shot and killed with guns. Of these, 73 percent (3,609 victims) were killed with handguns.

For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 72 percent of black victims (2,002 out of 2,766) were killed by someone they knew. The number of victims killed by strangers was 764.

For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 68 percent (2,534 out of 3,754) were not related to the commission of any other felony. Of these, 51 percent (1,284 homicides) involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

The FBI data includes incidents reported as justifiable homicides of black victims killed by law enforcement. Nationwide, there were 140 such incidents reported in 2013. The data does not specifically identify killings by police that are not ruled justifiable. The FBI recently announced it will dramatically expand its data collection on violent police encounters by 2017.

The study calculates black homicide victimization rates by dividing the number of black homicide victims by the black population, and multiplying the result by 100,000. This is the standard and accepted method of comparing fatal levels of gun violence.