NORFOLK, Va. — Hampton Roads is grappling with a violent start to 2022.
On average, almost two people have been shot each day this year in the seven cities.
Shootings are up 27% from this same time last year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
13News Now Investigates looked at first-quarter shooting data from January 1 to March 31 and brought our findings to Tidewater Community College Criminal Justice Professor Dr. Tony Passaro.
“When I looked at those numbers I said, 'Oh boy, that’s just unbelievable.' And this is the beginning," Dr. Passaro said.
We counted 161 people shot in Hampton Roads in the first quarter of 2022. That's up from the 127 people shot during the same time period in 2021.
Both years are also a noticeable jump from the 100 victims back in 2019, pre-pandemic.
We found shootings up this year in Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk.
Meanwhile, other cities are bucking the trend. We counted fewer shooting victims this year in Virginia Beach, Newport News, and Hampton. Shootings in Chesapeake were flat quarter-over-quarter.
“They’re awful, it shouldn’t happen. The question is: why is it happening? And I don’t think one answer is going to be the catch-all. I think it’s a combination of things," Dr. Passaro said.
Dr. Passaro, who spent 16 years in law enforcement, said some of the crime can be blamed on untreated mental illness and the isolation of the pandemic lockdowns.
He said a post-pandemic return to normalcy is a starting point for improvements. But he also expressed the urgent need for a return to community policing.
“Community policing is an art that is lost in law enforcement," he said. "We need to get back on foot patrol. We need to get out of that car and get into the public and get involved in the community."
Of the 161 people shot this year, almost 75% of them survived. Despite that, homicides are also up year-over-year, with 46 people killed in Hampton Roads in the first quarter of 2022, compared to 42 this time last year.
During the first quarter of 2019 -- which was the last full calendar year before the COVID-19 pandemic -- we counted just 24 homicides across the seven cities.