L.A. Now Live: Pomona seeing highest homicide rate in years

Pomona has seen a sharp increase in homicides in the last two years — reversing years of declines in a city that was once notorious for its murder rate and gang wars. Including a shooting Monday night, there have been 20 killings so far this year, compared with 17 for all of 2012 and 11 for all of 2011. By contrast, homicides are down this year in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the number of homicides in areas patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which hit a 50-year low in 2012, are up slightly this year.

Join us at 9 a.m. when we talk with Times reporter Joseph Serna about the violence Pomona is seeing this year and how police and residents are responding.

Homicides in Pomona peaked in the 1990s, when 34 people were killed in one year. Although the current figure is lower, the violence has the city of 150,000 on edge and searching for solutions.

Pomona, a predominantly Latino city on the eastern edge of the San Gabriel Valley, takes pride in improvements the city has made in the last decade, including transformation of its historic downtown into an arts district. But Pomona has several entrenched street gangs that continue to operate despite numerous crackdowns. In 2004, a California Highway Patrol officer was killed by a teenager trying to impress the 12th Street gang.

Pomona has averaged about 20 killings annually in recent years — above the state average. There are about 5 homicides per 100,000 people in California, according to the FBI’s 2011 Uniform Crime Report, the most recent completed data available.