INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis will again mark its deadliest year in recorded history after a final burst of violence in the waning days of 2016 brought the year's criminal homicide total to 149.
The distinction is especially dubious, as it follows directly on the heels of the city's previous deadliest year. In 2015, 144 people were murdered -- breaking the record of 143 set in 1998.
With just two days left in the year, 2016 looked at least to offer one silver lining: one of the smallest overall homicide increases in years. But then three people were killed in a 24-hour span between December 29 and 30.
Between 2011 and 2015, murders in Indianapolis increased by an average of 9.85 percent year over year. Last year, 2015 saw an increase of 10.77 percent compared to 2014. By comparison, 2016 saw an increase of 4.2 percent -- a little under half of the five-year average.
Although the spread of victims' ages differed between the two years – the most common age of homicide victim in 2015 was 34, for example, versus 23 in 2016 – on average, the two years were very similar.
The median age of homicide victims in 2015 & 2016 was 29. And both years had similar numbers of victims under the age of 25: 55 in 2015 versus 58 in 2016.
2015 vs. 2016: Sex and race of victims
The demographic information for some of 2016's victims remains unknown, however, the data available shows the two years will end with similar proportions.
More than 80 percent of all homicide victims in Indianapolis for the past two years have been male. Seventy-two percent were black in 2015, compared to 69 percent in 2016. Black males again paid the heaviest toll. In 2015, 88 black men were the victims of criminal homicides. The next closest demographic was white men, at 21 victims. This year, 89 black men were killed, compared to 20 white men. Overall, 61 percent of homicide victims over the past two years have been black men.
2015 vs. 2016: Method and motive
Unsurprisingly, firearms again accounted for the vast majority of homicides in Indianapolis. Of 149 homicides this year, 134 were fatal shootings. Even more people, 138, were killed in shootings last year.
RTV6 did not track the suspected motive of homicides in 2015, so data is only available from IMPD for this year. Of those homicides where a suspected motive has been released, the majority are attributed to drugs, robbery or arguments. Those three motives account for nearly 67 percent of all reported homicide motives this year.