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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The city of Lexington is asking, “Why is the homicide rate going up?”

Thirty-five homicides have occurred in the past year, plus one new homicide just after Wednesday’s announcement. A record number closing out 2021.

In Wednesday’s press conference, Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers said, “I hate hearing numbers and records. We are talking about human beings, lives lost.”

Pictured from left to right: Devine Carama, One Lexington; Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers; Mayor Linda Gorton in Wednesday’s Press Conference (Danielle Miskell)

And the numbers cannot begin to express the grief the families of the victims feel.

“You know you hear numbers like that and because my child is one of those 35 then it suddenly becomes very real to you, and you’re much more aware of what’s actually happening around you,” Lea Ann Lewis said, one mother who lost her son back in March 2021.

A day after Lexington leaders announce that the city has set a new record for homicides, one other alarming fact also lingers: more than half of the city’s 2021 homicide cases are still waiting to be solved.

A snapshot of Lexington’s list of 2021 homicides. Click on the picture to view the entire list. (Danielle Miskell)

“I don’t know if they just need more policemen, or more detectives to be able to work all of the leads that they have to solve these cases,” Lewis said.

Lewis is the mother of University of Kentucky nursing student Jesse Averitt. He was 28-years-old,
playing video games in his home when someone opened 18 rounds of gunfire on his house.

Averitt later died in the hospital, and still, no suspects have been arrested.

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“You know what happened to Jesse specifically, there shouldn’t be a reason why nobody knows who it was,” Lewis said.

Jesse Averitt, 28, is one of the 35 victims of homicide in Lexington. He was killed in March 2021 and the investigation is still ongoing. (Jesse Averitt)

In spite of no suspects having been arrested, it doesn’t mean the investigation is over.

“Detective Anthony Delimpo has been very kind. They don’t think it was a hate crime. They think that it was shot at probably because it was the only house in the neighborhood with lights on. Also, it’s a vinyl-sliding house and most of the other homes on the street were brick. So, I think they selected it as well because they knew the bullets would penetrate,” Lewis said.

Lewis said while she’s optimistic her case will be solved, she knows it is going to take a while.

“I want it solved, and I want whoever’s responsible for this to be prosecuted and all of that. I would prefer not to have to wait another five years, or however long so that once we’ve gotten used to the idea of Jesse no longer being around, and then go to trial and have everything all disrupted again, it would be difficult,” Lewis said.

Chief Weathers stated Lexington’s violent crime rate has gone down in 2021, yet homicides have gone up, and 34 of the 35 homicides are due to gun violence.

Chief Weathers also stated that the majority of the perpetrators related to these gun violent crimes are among the younger generation.

One issue the Lexington police department sees reoccurring is when people leave their guns unattended in their cars; those guns are typically stolen and in turn used for violent crimes.

Mayor Linda Gorton said the city will not let up and has budgeted to train more officers.