Baton Rouge Murder Triangle
There have been 38 homicides in Baton Rouge from January 1-April 15. 76% of the homicides have happened within a triangle of the city. The yellow flags are homicides in January, orange flags are homicides in February, red flags are homicides in March and green flags are homicides in April.

Baton Rouge’s murder triangle: An inside look at the deadliest area of the Capital City

BATON ROUGE — The first four months of 2024 have marked one of the deadliest periods on record in Baton Rouge. With nearly 40 homicides recorded in the city alone thus far, we are matching the pace set in 2021, a year distinguished as the deadliest on record for Baton Rouge.

In 2021, the city witnessed 131 murders, ranking Baton Rouge among the most dangerous cities in America for that year.

This year, Baton Rouge appears poised to match that grim record if the current rate of homicides persists.

“We’ve been here before,” East Baton Rouge Parish mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome said on March 25. “And just as we’ve done before, we will drive down the crime statistics once again. I will not waver in my commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of every resident in Baton Rouge.”

UWK has tracked the locations of these homicides from January 1st through April 16th. More than three-quarters of these violent acts have been concentrated within a specific area of the city, forming a triangle extending from near downtown to Windsor Place.

We are investigating the factors contributing to this surge in crime and exploring strategies to reduce these alarming numbers.

Historical crime perspective

Chart of Baton Rouge homicides from 2010-2024
Source: FBI & BRPD crime stats

Violent crime in Baton Rouge, particularly homicides, has fluctuated significantly over the past decade.

A decade ago, the homicide rate in the city reached one of its lowest points on record, with 53 reported homicides, according to FBI crime data. Despite a slight increase in 2015, the number of homicides dropped to 47 in 2016, marking the lowest level since 2004.

However, since then, crime rates have soared to historically high levels. When tracing FBI statistics back to 1985, 2017 stood out as one of the city’s deadliest years on record, with 87 homicides reported. Though the numbers dipped slightly in 2018 and 2019, they surged again in 2020 and 2021. These two years marked the highest levels of violence ever recorded in the city or parish, with each year witnessing more than 100 homicides. The alarming numbers put Baton Rouge on the list of America’s deadliest cities both years.

Since 1985, Baton Rouge has maintained an average annual homicide rate of 60, a threshold that the city has surpassed since 2017.

“Mission Accomplished”?

During her re-election announcement in January, Broome boasted about a decrease in violent crime and a reduction in gun violence across Baton Rouge. At the time, the mayor-president touted a 34% decrease in gun violence over the past two years.

“I recently saw this article,” Broome said in January, holding up a news article. “It says that most people think that the U.S. crime rate is rising. They’re wrong. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have work to do, but it means that compared to where we were, the crime rate is going down. We are looking at data. So, let’s look at the data and what it is saying.”

It echoes Broome’s remarks in May 2023 when addressing crime in Baton Rouge, where she stated, “The average person in Baton Rouge should feel safe.”

However, since then, crime rates have surged to levels surpassing those of 2021, which marked the city’s most violent year on record.

Some pundits have drawn parallels between Broome’s crime reduction speeches and former President George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” declaration in 2003. Bush famously stood on an aircraft carrier beneath a massive banner reading “Mission Accomplished,” asserting that major combat operations in Iraq had concluded, despite the war persisting for years thereafter.

READ MORE: “Pray for this city” | After violent weekend & growing homicide numbers, leaders address Baton Rouge crime wave

READ MORE: Baton Rouge Crime: Homicides in 2024 double compared to this time last year

The murder triangle

  • Baton Rouge Homicides January to April 16
  • Baton Rouge Murder Triangle

Broome, along with Baton Rouge Police Chief TJ Morse, have addressed the surge in violence on numerous occasions since January, asserting that contrary to public perception, crime is not spiraling out of control. They emphasize that it is primarily attributed to retaliatory actions among certain groups.

“I want the public to know that what we’ve been experiencing in regards to shootings in our city have mostly been very personable, highly-targeted incidents,” Morse said. “Again, the vast majority of the shootings have not been random in nature.”

The mayor-president and police chief’s assertion that crime is being contained to specific areas of the city holds true, particularly concerning homicides. Analysis conducted by UWK has mapped out all homicides that have occurred in Baton Rouge since January 1. The incidents tend to cluster in specific areas of the city, primarily along the I-110 corridor and Windsor Place.

Approximately 80% of the 38 homicides in Baton Rouge this year are concentrated within a triangle bounded approximately by I-110 to Flannery Rd. between Greenwell St. and Florida Blvd.

This ‘murder triangle’ has historically seen the most violent crime in the city.

“Unfortunately, we saw this string of homicides; it almost seemed like there was one a day for a while, one after the next, after the next,” East Baton Rouge Parish coroner Dr. Beau Clark told Kiran Chawla on the “Louisiana Unfiltered” podcast. “In the first quarter of the year, which is really kind of interesting because that’s not the typical time of year that we see surges in homicides; we typically see surges in the summer months when it’s hot, August, September, that kind of timeframe. So, for us, as investigators, we’ve got an atypical time of year with a high number of homicides. What’s going to happen when it is the typical time of year?”

Clark says there’s a unique connection between the homicide problem Baton Rouge is contending with and the city’s overdose and narcotic problem.

“If you solve one (of those problems), you could potentially solve both,” Clark said. “And you’re talking about our two largest areas where we’re seeing homicides and overdoses. Wouldn’t it be nice to decrease both of those by potentially, you know, being a little bit progressive with how we manage that?”

READ MORE: EBRSO announces new gang unit to combat violent crime, murders in Baton Rouge area

The kindergarten analogy

Fixing the problem is not as complicated as it may seem, according to Shane Evans, chief of investigations with the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s office. He attributes the problem to the disbandment of the narcotics division within the Baton Rouge Police Department in 2021 after a string of officer misconduct that led to criminal charges.

“I call it a kindergarten analogy,” Evans said. “If we’re a couple of kindergarten teachers, and we’re sitting there with those kids all morning, everything’s fine. They’re playing with their blocks, coloring, and everybody’s getting along. We leave for two hours, we’re gonna come back to somebody’s been bitten in the face and a bald patch pulled out of somebody’s head, somebody’s writing on the wall, maybe somebody’s had an accident on the floor. All the bad things with people who are unsupervised, the kids. So, the drug dealers wind up being the ones who are shooting each other. That’s the vast majority; these are young men who are not gainfully employed, they’re out there selling drugs, and they’re not seeing that pressure from what I’ll call technical narcotics enforcement. That’s where there is surveillance and there are undercover buys, all the things that we do. Now, I’m not saying it’s not happening, because I know of an agency in East Baton Rouge Parish that is working very, very hard on those type of cases. But that pressure is not happening in the city limits.”

According to former narcotics detectives and law enforcement experts, the majority of the drug problems within the city of Baton Rouge is also taking place inside the ‘murder triangle’. They point out that it is not the only areas of Baton Rouge that are seeing problems with narcotics and fentanyl, but it is historically an area that has provided the most problems for police.

Evans says that instead of feeling pressure from law enforcement, they’re feeling pressure through gang affiliations and turf wars with other drug dealers.

‘If you break the law, you will be held accountable’

Following a surge in violent crime in March, Broome’s office authorized additional funding for police officer overtime. This move is integral to the city’s proactive policing strategy, aimed at bolstering patrols and compensating for an understaffed department by extending working hours to address the rising crime rate.

Broome’s office has specified that the extra funding will support the expenses of 10 officers working six hours of overtime per day, seven days a week to get more officers on the streets of Baton Rouge.

The ‘boots on the ground’ approach presents a significant challenge for the Baton Rouge Police Department, as it does for many other cities, due to a shortage of officers. 

Despite plans to increase officer pay by nearly 15% since 2021 and offering a $10,000 new hire bonus, Baton Rouge has experienced a decline in the number of officers on the force. There are approximately 100 vacancies inside the department. Baton Rouge Police spokesperson L’Jean McKneely tells UWK that as of April 1, 2024, there are 569 officers in the department. BRPD is allotted for 696 officers with an average of 650.

“It disappoints me to see law-abiding citizens who contribute to our community and abide by the rules having to watch as those choosing to break the law openly defy the peace and safety we all have a right to,” Broome said. “Let me make one thing abundantly clear: the individuals perpetrating these crimes are a small number… but their actions are having far-reaching consequences. To those who believe they can escape the law, I say this with absolute certainty: it will not happen. If you break the law, you will be investigated, arrested, and held accountable by our criminal justice system.”

There has been no indication of assistance from the state, nor have there been discussions about deploying a special task force or state police troop to help address the escalating homicide rates in Baton Rouge, unlike the actions taken in New Orleans. This comes despite a staggering 124% increase in homicides compared to the same time period in 2023.

READ MORE: Landry ran as a tough on crime governor. Is he doing enough to keep Baton Rouge safe?

For Evans, he believes a simple change could change the violent trajectory of Baton Rouge.

“There has to be pressure from justice on people who have made that decision to be lifetime criminals,” he said. “In East Baton Rouge Parish, we’ve got to make a decision to make it too expensive and too uncomfortable for them to do business here if we want to change the direction of crime.”

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on the latest news across the Capital area. 

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for this article. Could you please provide a link to a map large enough to identify this area specifically? That would be most helpful when deciding which route to take to be more safe.

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