RICHMOND, Va. -- Newly released crime statistics for 2020 show a modest decline in crime in Virginia.
However, the State Police report reveals some troubling trends: violent crime including murder is up almost 24% and the rate of young adults being involved is more than double that.
Over the years now-retired Richmond homicide Detective Joseph Fultz has knocked on hundreds of doors to deliver the tragic news.
“I can truly say that I walked in their shoes," said Fultz. "I was in homicide over 20 years. You grab a detective to go with you and you knock on the door to tell a relative or loved one the bad news."
That knock is something that happened 528 times in 2020 throughout Virginia, with murders an alarming 23.4% higher than in 2019.
"It's heart-wrenching,” said Ricky Johnson, an activist who provides supplies to impoverished communities. “I go out here and try to bless thousands with the hopes of just saving one, to get one kid off the streets."
Johnson is a veteran who has spent his adult life helping Central Virginia's youth stay off the streets and away from violence, but he knows he can't do it alone.
"You have to step outside those four walls and be a parent to your neighborhood kids as well as your own,” said Johnson. “As a community leader, I'm out there. I'm trying to get more involved but no one wants to volunteer. We need parents to step up and be active."
The State Police report shows 45% of homicide victims were between the ages of 18 of 34, and 52% of those accused of doing the killing -whether by knife, gunfire or beating- were in that same age group.
Johnson is convinced it was a young man who took his uncle’s life during a shooting in Fulton last June. Willie Bo Johnston's murder has not been solved.
Johnson has a challenge for other leaders in Central Virginia, hoping to reduce violence when next year’s numbers surface. “If you want to do something for your young people,” Johnson said. “At no charge, I have a facility you can use Monday through Thursday. If that means getting kids off the streets, I challenge churches, community centers and other organizations to do the same."
You can find the full report here.
Break-ins were down dramatically in 2020, but police say that could be because so many people were at home due to the pandemic.