With two double homicides (for a total of four homicides) on Sunday, Nov. 27, New Orleans reached 178 murders for 2011. That's three more than the 175 in all of 2010, and there's still more than a month left in the year.
There is apparently some confusion, at least at the daily newspaper, as to when murder number 175 happened.
(Note: Reducing these tragedies to and subsequently being finicky over crime statistics is arguably morbid and disrespectful. However, we're getting to the end of the year. These numbers are going to be appearing in the media a lot. If we in the media are going to be morbidly disrespectful — a lot — anyway, let's at least try not to confuse everyone while we're doing it.)
Today's front page story "Murder rate tops 2010's after double homicides" (not available online for some reason, so here's a picture of the front page) correctly says that Sunday's four killings "bring the total number of homicides in New Orleans for 2011 to 178," meaning that before Sunday, the city was still at 174.
However, the Sunday Times-Picayune had two pieces, one an editorial and one an opinion column by Jarvis Deberry, both claiming murder 175 happened before the weekend, either "Wednesday," or, more vaguely, "before Thanksgiving."
The two columns, particularly DeBerry's, are well worth reading, but the statistic is wrong. As the paper noted previously, the city's murder tally was at 173 last Tuesday. The killing of Lester Foster on Wednesday brought it up to 174.
Now, if you look at the New Orleans crime map, as I did over the weekend, you might think number 175 happened on Friday. The map shows a homicide in the 3100 block of Delachaise St. on Friday morning.
But you'd be wrong. New Orleans Police Department officials tell Gambit that the identified "homicide" on the map was actually just an attempted homicide. (Such are the limitations of the mapping software, which you can read about here.)
But wait! Take another look at that editorial, and now you'll think the T-P inadvertently confirms it. A picture of police technicians cleaning up a crime scene has this caption: "New Orleans Police Department crime scene technicians collect evidence in the 3500 block of General Taylor Street Friday." That photo is (A) supposedly from Friday and (B) near the Delachaise incident from the map, right? There was a murder on Friday!
Wrong again. That caption should actually read "Friday, July 1."