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Current spike in homicide rate, similar to city's 1991 record breaking year of murder

The city is now on pace to break the record of 139 murders that happened in 1991 when crack cocaine took over the streets. (WSYX/WTTE)

The Livingston Market has seen its fair share of violence in east Columbus.

"It's not just here, it's everywhere," said store clerk Gehad Ezben.

In September, a man ran into the store after being shot across the street at a barber shop.

"He came and asked for help, we called the police, tried to help him and do whatever we could," said Ezben.

The shooting victim died later at the hospital. Damon Jenkins, 43, is one of 111 homicide victims who lost their lives to violence in Columbus since the first of the year.

The city is now on pace to break the record of 139 murders that happened in 1991 when crack cocaine took over the streets.

"It was crazy then and even crazier now," said "Jersey", who has lived on the east side all of his life.

"it's a similar kind of problem," said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien.

O'Brien who was Columbus City Prosecutor in 1991, says the current opioid epidemic is reminiscent of the crack cocaine crisis of the early 1990's.

"The intense drug use and competition for drug sales to happen and the addiction that was occurring and the need to commit crimes is similar," said O'Brien.

O'Brien says the problem on the streets remain guns, drugs and gangs, with the latter now more dangerous than years ago.

"it seems to me there's more violence among people engaged now, than there was back then," said O'Brien

During the city's crack cocaine scourge in the early 90's, Columbus Police created the Street Crime Attack Team (SCAT) that targeted crack houses. During the first year 900 arrests were made.

City Hall last week announced it would soon introduce new anti-violence initiatives and expand current programs that are making an impact reducing crime.

"we just can't single out the drug use, we have to look at the problem as a whole," said Jersey.


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