Gainesville’s homicide rate rises nearly 30 percent
The number of homicides in the Gainesville area increased by nearly one-third in 2023 compared to the year before.
During Thursday’s Gainesville City Commission meeting, Assistant Chief Nelson Moya presented the 2023 Gainesville Police Department crime statistics as part of the year-end quarterly report.
“The percentage change for homicide between 2022 and 2023 has now increased to 27.27%,” Moya said.
There were 14 homicides in 2023 and 11 in 2022.
According to police, killings in Gainesville have increased steadily since 2020, with homicide deaths rising by 75% over the last four years.
Moya explained that the police department pays particular attention to stolen firearms. “Sadly, those firearms are often used in crimes,” Moya said.
Moya emphasized the value the police force places on locating stolen weapons and linking them to crimes. He also highlighted the need to address firearm theft after he revealed a 27% increase in gun-related injuries and a 30% increase in gun-related killings.
“A good majority of our stolen firearms cases come out of vehicles themselves,” Gainesville Police Department Chief Inspector Jaime Kurnick explained. “We’re seeing the trend that more guns are coming out of cars this year than did last year.”
Kurnick explained that all of the police department’s initiatives and efforts, both in the community and enforcement-wise, are focused on decreasing violent crime numbers.
“That is our primary mission at this point,” Kurnick said.
Mayor Harvey Ward expressed his concern, stating, “If one person is shot in Gainesville, that’s too many people.”
He went on to urge residents not to leave guns in cars despite their reasoning. Ward also stressed the importance of securing firearms, as a high percentage of the stolen firearms come from unlocked automobiles.
“But, if you can’t do that,” added Ward, “for goodness sake, lock your car.”
Jonathan Kanarek, a 21-year-old University of Florida industrial engineering senior, called for an increased police presence downtown.
“The increase in homicide rates makes me feel a little bit more nervous about going out and going to other places beyond campus,” Kanarek said.
Bree Daer echoed Kanarek’s sentiment, saying that, overall, she feels safe. However, there are certain instances where that safety has been put into question.
“Over the summer, right across the street from my apartment, the Hub on University, there was a shooting, and I think that's terrifying.”
Daer, 20, is an employee at Daydreamer Cafe in Gainesville. She continued to express her fears, saying, “Anyone can be a victim. They need to do something about that.”
“We understand the implications of what it means for every person,” Kurnick said, “We definitely are tracking and paying attention.”
Despite the increase, she noted that Gainesville compares favorably to other university cities.
“We are definitely in the lower quartile on all of those. And that’s very good news,” Kurnick said.