On August 12, Alfred Lorenzo Jenkins Jr., age 18, was gunned down at the Shell gas station at 4012 Messer Airport Hwy in the North Avondale community of Birmingham. He died from his multiple gunshot wounds at UAB the next day, becoming the 94th homicide in Birmingham in 2022.

Some 141 people died from homicide in the city of Birmingham in 2021. That is up from 125 in 2020 and 63 in 2014. 2022 is poised to become the eighth year in a row where murders in Birmingham topped 100. 2021’s death toll of 141 was the highest number since the record was set in 1992 at 148. Birmingham is a smaller city than it was then, but the violence is setting a record pace. If the slayings continue at the rate that they have been over the last seven and a half months, Birmingham could finish 2022 with the most killings in its history.

The Birmingham Police Department officially only considers 85 of the deaths as murders because six killings, including one by a Birmingham Police officer, have been ruled as justified. Two killings by reckless driving have been downgraded to manslaughter, and another was investigated by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

Fifty of those homicides are in the West Precinct, where the killings are double the rate at this time last year. Guns are overwhelmingly the weapons of choice.

Alabama, at 12.9 murders per 100,000 residents, trails only Louisiana in the murder rate, at 14.4 murders per 100,000 residents. Like Louisiana, the violence is mostly in urban areas, with Birmingham being the leader in the state in slayings.   

The violence and the fear of being a victim of violence have helped contribute to the population decline that Birmingham is experiencing. Birmingham was once the largest city in Alabama. No longer. In the 1960 Census, the city had 340,387 residents when the city occupied a smaller land area than it does today. The Census Bureau estimates that only 197,575 people lived in the city of Birmingham on July 1, 2021. That would be the lowest number since the 1920s and represents an 18.3% decline since 2020. Birmingham now trails Huntsville with 221,986 people and Montgomery with 198,665 people.

(Bham Wiki and the U.S. Census Bureau were consulted in the writing of this article.)

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.

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