LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A homicide detective in the Louisville Metro Police Department picks up a new homicide case nearly every 20 days.
One detective told WAVE 3 News that’s rarely adequate time to solve anything.
Det. Michael McLaurine revealed some of the factors behind the shootings and why they’re not being solved.
At one point in 2020, McLaurine said, the city averaged 4.5 homicides a week. LMPD is overwhelmed, victims’ families are left without answers and the city has seen and felt the pain of a gun violence epidemic that has ripped through the country.
LMPD said gunshots have pierced through Louisville more than 600 times since January, snatching the lives of more than 130 victims, including 16 children under age 18.
”Flat out it’s depressing,” McLaurine said.
As a child, McLaurine said he was naive to the violence in the city. Now he sees the change through a detective’s magnifying glass.
“People no longer just use hands or feet to fight,” McLaurine said. “They’re going to guns a lot quicker.”
McLaurine said more shootings have stemmed from social media beefs, family and relationship issues and gang activity. Investigators said they’re seeing more women and minors involved in gun violence, adding that they’re responding to more crime scenes in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods.
”Everything is just kind of trending up,” McLaurine said.
“(In) a vast majority of the cases, we know who did it,” McLaurine said. “We know but we can’t prove it.”
LMPD’s homicide report shows 90 percent of this year’s shootings remain unsolved. McLaurine said there’s one category that hits home.
”There’s no greater outpour from the community then when a kid is injured,” McLaurine said. “Everybody is calling in the tip lines, everybody speaks.”
However, once the victim hits 18 years old, the tips slow down.
”There’s this dichotomy of us versus them,” McLaurine said, adding that the lack of trust between the community and police plays a role in the division. Even if one dozen people saw an incident happen, not everybody speaks up. Weapons carry their own voices, McLaurine said.
”Every gun has a unique signature that is left by that shell casing,” McLaurine said.
The signature loses definition when, for example, detectives find casings from a gun possibly used downtown by two women in a green car. McLaurine said that two days later, casings from the same gun could be found on the south side of town with male suspects in a silver truck. The constant hand-off can make tracking shooters a never-ending maze.
”(We) catch somebody with this firearm, (we ask), ‘Hey, where did you get it?’” McLaurine said. “(They might say), ‘Oh, I got it from here, I got it from some guys off the street for $200.’ OK, then what happened?”
The LMPD homicide report shows more than 540 people were shot this year but survived.
Growing up in Louisville, McLaurine didn’t think he’d ever see such numbers. The drive to solve non-fatal cases is just as fierce.
”In terms of the investigation, that person just missed,” McLaurine said.