Kern is on track for another record year in homicides after the most recent shooting left a man dead Thursday afternoon at Seasons Park.
The park, near Stine and Harris Roads in Southwest Bakersfield, is just feet away from an elementary school. The shooting happened in broad daylight, around 4:30 p.m. Kids after school heard five shots. The incident marks the 110th homicide of the year.
“It’s awful, and we handle these cases too often,” said Assistant District Attorney, Joe Kinzel. “When you have gang-related homicides—where these types of crimes are occurring in parks, at gatherings—children are getting caught in the crossfire even if they aren’t the intended targets.”
This uptick in violent crimes is happening nationwide.
“Major cities across the country—we’re seeing an increase of up to 28 percent in homicides,” Kinzel said. “I think there’s no question the pandemic has played a part.
Last year, for the first time in five years, our homicide count went down. Our record was 112 in 2018.
Now, with just two more homicides in 2020, we could beat that record. There have been 14 homicides alone this month.
The district attorney’s office blames more than just COVID.
“States are being forced to release prisoners early, and in California, up to 20,000 people in one year alone were released early because of the pandemic,” Kinzel said. “So people who would otherwise be in custody are being released back in the community, and we think that is fostering increased crime.”