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2020 had the most homicides in the valley in a decade

UPDATE 1/20/21:
After further review with our local police agencies, we've discovered there were two homicides missing.

The actual number of homicides in 2020 was 36.

Additional Homicides:

  • One homicide on April 8th with limited details in which a man was found dead near I-10 and Frontage Road. No arrests have been made
  • On August 7th there was an incident where a man was shot and killed then crashed into pedestrians. One pedestrian was later pronounced dead.

Original Report 12/31/20:

This difficult year is marked by a surge in violent deaths in the Coachella Valley. 2020 was a record-breaking year for homicides in the desert.

34 people were killed this year in the valley, reaching a decade-high. That's up from 32 people killed last year.

Preliminary reporting shows the Riverside County Sheriff's Dept. with 8 homicides:

  • Coachella: 2
  • Thermal: 2
  • Rancho Mirage: 1
  • Indio: 1
  • Indian Wells: 1
  • Desert Hot Springs: 1

There were also three deadly officer-involved shootings involving the Sheriff's Dept. this year, in Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta.

In Indio, preliminary homicide reporting shows the city leading the valley with 7 people killed there.

Indio Police Dept. spokesman Ben Guitron said the majority were not gang-related killings.

Of the 7 investigations, only two remain open still.

"Our detectives have some really good cases," Guitron said. "We feel pretty confident that in the near future, they will be solved."

One notable case is the January 16 death of a 2-month-old baby at JFK Memorial Hospital. The deceased child's parents were arrested and charged with abuse and murder.

"During the examination, the baby had injuries that just didn't coincide as an accident and further investigation revealed that the mother and father were responsible," Guitron said.

In Desert Hot Springs, 6 homicides were preliminarily reported this year, including one last weekend.

Arrests have been made in 4 of the 6 cases, as well as in a cold case from 2017 – one of the best records in the valley this year.

"It's really been some fantastic work by our detectives, which really starts with their initial response to the scene, and they don't stop until they've located the person that they're looking for," said Deputy Chief Steven Shaw.

Palm Springs Police Department is preliminarily reporting 5 homicides in 2020. At least three of them are related to ongoing rival gang activity in the north end of the city.

"We've made numerous arrests out of this," said Lt. William Hutchinson. "When we do make arrests, it seems that the shootings die down for a period of time – until some of these people are released back, and then we certainly see an uptick in the shootings again."

PSPD said it's hopeful search warrants will deliver digital evidence like text messages and location data. "Potentially, we hope it's gonna solve a lot of these crimes to where we can actually put faces and names to all of these incidents."

Cathedral City preliminarily reported 5 homicides, including a doorstep shooting of a father and his daughter. The father did not survive.

Cathedral City Police Dept. didn't respond to our request for comment.

Police said they're hoping for a safe New Year's Eve – as they look forward to 2021.

"We want folks to stay home as best they can," Shaw said. "Bring in the new year, but do it safely."

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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