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Kalamazoo sees a modest decrease in gun crime, which spiked during the pandemic

Close-up of a hand holding a brass-and-copper-colored bullet, next to an open container of similar bullets with the ends facing up, arranged in a grid
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Chris Puehse, owner of Foothill Ammo, displays .45-caliber ammunition for sale at his store in Shingle Springs, Calif., on June 11, 2019.

A Public Safety official cautioned that the improvement was tenuous. Many cities saw huge increases in gun crime in the first two years of Covid-19.

Recent data on assaults with firearms suggests that Kalamazoo’s pandemic-era surge in gun crimes could be continuing to ebb, a senior Department of Public Safety official told WMUK.

Assistant Chief David Juday said a glance at the city’s crime dashboard showed assaults with firearms were down 10 percent from one year ago. Fatal shootings fell 15 percent, and nonfatal shootings 13 percent last year, after jumping dramatically in 2020 and 2021.

Thirteen people were shot to death in the city each of those years, nearly double the 2019 total of seven. Nonfatal shootings, of which there were 31 in 2019, rose to 75 in 2020 and 76 in 2021.

The city had 11 fatal and 66 nonfatal shootings last year, Juday said.

Many American cities saw a similar increase in violent gun crime during the first two years of COVID.

Juday said the year-to-date decrease in gun crimes suggests things are moving in the right direction. But he added, it’s too soon to know for sure.

“Just any given warm weekend, we could have, you know, one to three non-fatal or fatal shootings,” he said. “So it just takes a very short period of time, you know, to raise or lower those numbers.”

Juday said Kalamazoo has had two fatal shootings so far this year, and 16 nonfatal shootings.

Juday said KDPS and the courts have been able to restart many programs paused during COVID, including efforts to reduce violent gun crime.

“If we can identify two individuals or two individual groups, that are feuding back and forth, we’re being very intentional about doing interventions or mediations with those two groups to prevent any additional violence,” he said.

Juday said KDPS is still about 30 officers, or 11 percent, short of full staffing.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. She covered those topics and more in eight years of reporting for the Station, before becoming news director in 2022.