Alabama city plagued by gun violence

The US is seeing a spike in crime across the country with even some of the country's smallest cities are seeing a spike in gun violence. CNN's Ryan Young reports.

Posted: Jul 21, 2021 9:21 AM
Updated: Jul 21, 2021 9:35 AM


Katrina Grady was driving home from her mother's house on the west side of Birmingham, Alabama, in May when she saw a car on the side of the street, its airbags deployed, so she stopped to see if anyone needed help.

"I'm the type of person, I got to help," Grady said. "I'm a certified nursing assistant."

Then people in the neighborhood started shouting, "Get down," and "Here comes the car that started shooting at this vehicle," she said.

Grady hit the ground with bullets flying around her when she heard her daughter scream that her sister had been shot.

"I froze up because I couldn't believe my baby just got shot," Grady said.

It seems a miracle that 8-year-old Kaitlynn -- who was shot in the head and arm -- survived.

"We were just trying to help someone and boom! There it is," Grady said. "I never would have thought I would be in this situation."

In Birmingham, though, it isn't an unheard of situation. In 2020, Alabama's largest city saw the most homicides in 25 years, with 122 people reported killed, and murders are up 16% so far this year over the same time last year, according to police data.

And Birmingham isn't alone. Major American cities saw a 33% increase in homicides last year in what police chiefs, including Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith, called a "perfect storm" -- the civil unrest that followed George Floyd's death, the economic shutdown and other disruptions -- including to the judicial system -- caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"What we're seeing now is an ongoing result of a lot of that," Smith said.

Birmingham police said a gun is almost always involved in homicides, and law enforcement is dealing with an unprecedented number of guns on the streets.

"It's so easy to get a gun," said Birmingham Officer Truman Fitzgerald -- easier than getting a cell phone, he said.

"It's just this over abundance of guns and the fact that we no longer have that argument or fist fight in the backyard anymore," said Smith. "It's an argument that leads directly to a handgun, something that we haven't seen in a long time."

Smith said his officers are dealing not just with an overabundance of guns, but of high-powered assault weapons on the street that are contributing to the rise in homicides in the city.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, Alabama has the third-highest rate of gun homicides and gun violence in the nation, and an AL.com analysis of homicides in Birmingham found the city had the second-highest rate of homicides per capita behind St. Louis, Missouri.

By the end of June, the city had taken 1,405 illegal guns off the streets, Mayor Randall Woodfin said last month.

In April, four children were wounded in a shooting in a Birmingham park Easter Sunday after an argument between two groups of men led to dozens of gunshots. A woman was killed in the shooting.

Then, after Kaitlynn Grady's shooting, Woodfin announced a cash incentive to try to get information that could led to the arrest of the shooters: $25,000 for information regarding each of the five child shootings, funded by area churches.

"That's how much emphasis we're placing on enticing and getting citizens, witnesses to come forward," said Woodfin, who lost a brother and a nephew to gun violence.

"We want to decrease crime. We need the community to help us get these killers off the street," Woodfin said.

But police cannot do it alone, Woodfin said, and there is no way to "arrest ourselves out of" the increase in homicides and gun violence.

"We need community partners, need the federal government, we need the faith community, we need the nonprofits and for-profits, everybody has to be at the table with this crisis that exists right now in America, because it's happening in all of our cities, small, medium, large," Woodfin said.

Grady said more police in the high-crime areas might help.

"I'm hearing gun shots every day," she said. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't hear it."

And she's heard -- and had -- enough. Grady has lived in the city all her life, but now she's ready to get out, whether it's moving to the city limits or to another state.

"I'm just willing to move on," she said.

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Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 350070

Reported Deaths: 7590
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds24512449
DeSoto23513283
Harrison21172335
Rankin15798293
Jackson15735254
Madison11171227
Lee10903180
Jones9223169
Forrest9027163
Lauderdale8087244
Lamar724890
Lowndes7199152
Lafayette6631125
Washington5661140
Pearl River5357154
Oktibbeha503198
Bolivar5004134
Warren4817128
Panola4812112
Marshall4739106
Pontotoc452473
Hancock440388
Neshoba4401181
Union438979
Monroe4369138
Lincoln4228116
Pike3739114
Leflore3676125
Alcorn355374
Tate354988
Sunflower351094
Adams347490
Scott346677
Yazoo342977
Copiah330869
Simpson327191
Itawamba317281
Coahoma315685
Tippah312869
Prentiss302563
Covington302384
Marion289882
Leake288676
Wayne280945
George277351
Grenada272188
Newton266864
Tishomingo240770
Winston238084
Stone235338
Jasper234748
Attala228674
Chickasaw221460
Holmes202574
Clay201954
Clarke189580
Tallahatchie185642
Calhoun183232
Smith183036
Yalobusha173641
Walthall150449
Lawrence145426
Greene141935
Amite139144
Noxubee137235
Perry136138
Montgomery133944
Carroll127031
Webster124332
Jefferson Davis119834
Tunica116127
Benton107825
Claiborne105931
Kemper104429
Humphreys102333
Franklin88424
Quitman86319
Choctaw83119
Wilkinson79332
Jefferson72228
Sharkey51918
Issaquena1746
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 592417

Reported Deaths: 11542
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson861091591
Mobile49771865
Madison37714533
Shelby27501259
Tuscaloosa27344465
Montgomery26343628
Baldwin25860329
Lee17336181
Calhoun15498334
Morgan15225291
Etowah15060370
Marshall13198236
Houston12191293
Elmore10977219
St. Clair10852252
Limestone10816158
Cullman10610206
Lauderdale10305254
DeKalb9594192
Talladega9005188
Walker7840288
Autauga7615114
Jackson7431117
Blount7417139
Colbert6752142
Coffee6443132
Dale5723117
Russell482243
Chilton4810117
Covington4804125
Franklin462781
Tallapoosa4571156
Escambia451083
Chambers3987125
Dallas3751163
Clarke372263
Marion3470107
Pike334079
Lawrence3277100
Winston300773
Bibb292865
Geneva288383
Marengo262967
Barbour253761
Pickens247762
Butler242472
Hale236778
Fayette228165
Henry216545
Monroe204541
Randolph202844
Cherokee200748
Washington186839
Macon171552
Crenshaw170658
Clay167159
Cleburne161845
Lamar151938
Lowndes146255
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh122132
Coosa119529
Perry111228
Sumter110633
Greene99337
Choctaw64425
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Wednesday starts off in the nice middle 60s, even some towns down into the lower 60s. We will stay with plenty of sunshine as we go through the day. Most of our high temperatures on Wednesday will be well into the 80s to near 90 degrees in the afternoon.
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