INDIANAPOLIS — The state's capital city in 2018 broke its all-time record for criminal homicides for the fourth consecutive year.
Data show 159 people were murdered in Indianapolis between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, topping the old record of 157 criminal homicides set in 2017.
The 159th victim, Steven Wooden, 35, died of gunshot wounds at a local hospital on New Year's Eve after being found unresponsive by police that morning in the driver's seat of a stolen tow truck on the city's southwest side, according to police.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Bryan Roach said officers are doing all they can to make the city's neighborhoods safer.
"We returned to community-based beat policing, we continue to grow our staffing levels and we've invested millions in new technology to support intelligence-led policing," Roach said.
Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat and former federal prosecutor who ran for office in 2015 on an anti-crime platform, told WISH-TV "the city is fully engaged in making sure that we reverse the trends."
In 2015, Indianapolis recorded 144 murders to break its old annual record of 143 criminal homicides, set in 1996.
The city's murder tally grew to 149 people in 2016, and continued to set new record marks in the two subsequent years.
"We need to be safer, we need to be more peaceful and that's our goal, that's our objective," said Hogsett, who is running for a second term.
In comparison, criminal homicides last year in Chicago totaled 561, a 15 percent year-over-year decline.
Chicago murders in 2018 were down 27 percent compared to 2016 when the city's gun violence was an issue in the presidential election.
Preliminary data shows New York City tallied 289 murders last year.
That was less than twice Indianapolis' total despite New York City having 10 times the population.