Ventura County had 31 homicides in 2008, Santa Paula one

January 13, 2010
Santa Paula News

Much like the rest of the nation, homicides declined in Ventura County last year. But while the number of murders in some areas approached historic lows, they were only slightly below average in Ventura County.

The number of murders in Ventura County fell by one - to 31 - over last year, and included cases that could be ruled justified. 

In Santa Paula there was one homicide, 25-year-old Jesus Ramos, who died more than three weeks after he was shot March 1 at a family gathering. Two men arrested in the case were not charged.

Throughout Ventura County the 2009 statistics include two men shot fatally by police last year, incidents that remain under mandated investigation by the District Attorney’s Office.

Since 1974, Ventura County’s yearly average has been 32.8 percent homicides, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office, which tracks the data. The lowest number of homicides was 19 in 2007, and the highest was 1979, when 59 people were killed. In 2003 there was another jump, with 49 killings for the year; Santa Paula had two homicides in 2003.

Based on the low state estimated 1.05 percent increase in Ventura County population last year, the per-capita homicide rate was lower than in past decades.

Los Angeles is a state leader in the decline of homicides, with a 40-year low. Sacramento also saw a dramatic drop with a 26-year low. Nationwide, according to the FBI, homicides dropped 10 percent in the first six months of 2009.

Oxnard, the county’s largest city, had 13 homicides in 2009, including one man who was fatally shot by police. The city had one fewer homicide than in 2008.

Ventura also had one-officer involved shooting that is included in the six homicides overall. The 2009 total was the most in the city since 1998, and a dramatic increase from 2008 when Ventura had two homicides.

Suspected gang violence is blamed for a little more than a fourth of the county’s homicides last year, also a decrease from 2008. Oxnard, which had two suspected gang-related homicides in 2008, had five such homicides in 2009. The Sheriff’s Department had one suspected gang killing in its jurisdiction of unincorporated Meiners Oaks in 2009, three less than reported in 2008.

Of the county’s 31 homicides, no suspects have been arrested in 15, almost half.

There were no homicides reported last year in Camarillo, El Rio, Fillmore, Moorpark, Newbury Park and Ojai. There was one homicide each in Frazier Park, Meiners Oaks, Santa Paula and Simi Valley. Thousand Oaks had two homicides, Ventura five, Oxnard 12, and four occurred in the unincorporated areas of the county.

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