By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
While overall crime is dramatically down in the city of Birmingham, the violence that left four men dead over the weekend is unacceptable, Mayor Randall Woodfin said Tuesday during a virtual press conference from City Hall.
The Birmingham Police Department is currently investigating four homicides that occurred Friday morning to Sunday morning. Three of the four victims have been identified.
“During this time of crisis, there has been a dark side that I’ve seen and we must acknowledge the homicides in our city over the last week,” Woodfin said. “While overall crime is dramatically down, the violence we’ve witnessed in the last week is not acceptable.
He continued, “Many of these crimes unfortunately cannot be policed because they involve personal relationships and heat of the moment decisions that end lives. Our police department remains committed and is taking the necessary steps to address these numbers head on,” he said.
The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office on Monday identified three of the victims as Emilio Aaron Elliot Jr., 23, Antione Harris, 36 and Charles Edward Gregory, 30.
While there are 31 homicides in Birmingham compared to 26 at this time last year, up 19.2 percent, crime is down in nearly all categories including rape, robbery and aggravated assaults, according to city statistics which show total violent crime has decreased 25.4 percent.
“The police department and community partners, as well as our residents, are to be commended for stepping up, sharing information, calling 911 and engaging in so many ways to reduce crime in our city,” he said.
The mayor said domestic violence is an area of crime that needs attention.
“The YWCA has seen a 50 percent increase in domestic violence calls to the crisis line since the shelter-in-place [order] took effect. The nature of these calls has shifted from individuals seeking information to requests for safety,” Woodfin said. “The shelter-in-place does not mean you have to stay in your home and endure domestic abuse. Many services are available for anyone needing help due to domestic abuse. If you find yourself in this situation, please call the 24-hour hotline at the YWCA at 205-322-4878.”
The mayor said he has not made a decision whether to extend the city’s current local shelter-in-place order which also expires April 30. The challenge is to balance reopening the city with managing the economic crisis.
Governor Kay Ivey announced today that the state’s shelter-in-place order will continue until April 30. The news comes after some states, including neighboring state Georgia, have decided to open businesses back up starting this week.
For more information and updates from the city regarding the COVID-19 crisis, visit www.birminghamal.gov/coronavirus.