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Phoenix homicides, gun violence rose 44% in 2020

Phoenix Police
Posted at 8:45 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 01:28:22-04

PHOENIX — Holding pictures of her late husband and standing outside her north Phoenix home, Frances Treadwell remembers the little things.

Her husband, Harold Treadwell III, 71, was killed in July 2019 while driving for Lyft as an apparent stray bullet hit him near 32nd Street and Baseline Road.

"He used to be the cook, he was the chef," Treadwell said. "He had more crockpots than anybody I know of."

Harold was driving for the rideshare company around 12:30 a.m. when the shooting occurred. Treadwell said it also fell on their 52nd wedding anniversary and they had talked on the phone a few minutes prior.

"He loved working nights," Treadwell said. "He knew he was in a bad area because when we talked, he was down by the airport, and he goes, 'I'm heading back up north because I don't like it down here at night.' So, he was headed back up this way when it happened."

Nearly two years later, Harold's case remains unsolved. Treadwell said she routinely checks with police on the case and hopes to someday get an answer as to who pulled the trigger and why.

"It's important to me because It will give me some closure, I think," Treadwell said. "You always ask yourself why? Why did this happen?"

Harold's death was one of 139 homicides in the City of Phoenix in 2019. According to data from the Phoenix Police Department that number jumped to 200 in 2020, a 44% increase.

"It's concerning, it's one of those things that we want to figure out what could we do to be proactive... and how do we prevent these types of incidents," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Mercedes Fortune.

Sgt. Fortune told ABC15 domestic violence homicides are part of the reason for the uptick in 2020 murders. Data shows of the 200 homicides, 43 were related to domestic violence. In 2019, 18 of the 139 homicides were related to domestic violence. The pandemic, perhaps, played a role in the 2020 increase.

"We had spouses really doing multi-victim homicides within those incidents," Sgt. Fortune said. "It's just really concerning. I think a lot of it had to do with the stresses people were going through."

Sgt. Fortune said they did start to see a downward trend at the end of the year. She also noted the department is looking for trends and specific locations throughout the city to focus on.

"Working with our crime intelligence, gun intelligence, group of people that... will help us kind of, maybe, lead us to the people that are pulling the triggers," Sgt. Fortune said.

"Instead of just saying, 'hey we're just going to send a bunch of officers into this area,' see what we find. I think it's more leading us to these people who are doing these types of crimes."

Data from the Phoenix Police Department shows, much like homicides, 2020 also saw a 44% increase in gun violence incidents, with 4,021 such cases, up from 2,780 in 2019.

Treadwell knows the pain of losing a loved one, shaking her head when ABC15 referenced the homicide numbers.

"Go back to the values and how you were raised, something went wrong somewhere along the way," Treadwell said. "Now we're fighting amongst each other and for no reason they reach out and kill people or do horrible things to them. Why? Have you lost your faith?"

Treadwell said her husband was very friendly and would help anyone. She hopes eventually to get answers in his case.

"I pray every day that I do," she said. "Every day. I pray every day. I think he's still with me, I can feel him. He'll watch over me until I pass, I know he will."

Anyone with information can contact Silent Witness, at 480-WITNESS.

Reference the 2020 uptick in murders and gun violence, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego issued the following statement to ABC15:

“As I speak with mayors in cities across the country, it’s clear the increases we see here are consistent with what we’re seeing across the United States. I agree with President Biden’s position that gun violence is now a public health epidemic. It is too easy to get a gun in the United States, and studies have shown that when someone has a gun they are much more likely to use it.

There’s also no question that the pandemic has created or intensified mental health issues for many people. Those issues lead too often to violence. It’s why Phoenix’ proposed budget includes $15 million to expand mental health response in emergency situations. We believe that by getting people the help they need we can reduce violence of all kinds, including those incidents that involve dangerous weapons.”

ABC15 also reached out to several other Valley police departments reference homicides over the past three years.


2018 - 137

2019 - 139

2020 - 200


2018 - 5

2019 - 13 (15 deaths)

2020 - 9


2018 - 11

2019 - 19

2020 - 26


2018 - 17

2019 - 10 (11 victims- meaning one is a ‘justified’ homicide)

2020 - 23 (24 victims)