Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office Registers Record Number of Gun-Related Homicides in 2020

Office sees highest overall caseload in its history

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed 875 gun-related homicides in 2020, breaking the previous record of 838 set in 1994. The Office released the grim statistic along with other preliminary case data for 2020 today.

The Office handled a total of 970 homicides in 2020. That’s a more than 40 percent increase over 2019’s total of 675. Blacks were the victims of 78 percent of homicides and Latinos accounted for more than 16 percent of homicide deaths. Eighty-nine percent of homicide deaths were male. Seventy homicide deaths were under 18; 22 were under the age of 10. The majority (722) of homicides were in the City of Chicago. The last time Cook County saw more than 970 homicides was in 1996.

The MEO handled a record 16,049 cases in 2020, far exceeding its previous record of 10,654 set in 1977. The County’s 8,192 COVID-19 infection deaths accounted for more than half of the 2020 caseload. The Office handles approximately 6,200 deaths in an average year. In 2019, the Office had 6,274 cases.*preliminary data

Nearly 58 percent of all cases handled in 2020 were African American and Latino. These communities also make up close to half of the County’s 8,192 confirmed coronavirus deaths. 

The County has also saw a record number of opioid overdose deaths in 2020. While the Office still awaits the results of hundreds of toxicology tests, it has already confirmed 1,599 opioid overdose deaths for 2020. The MEO anticipates that approximately 450 – 500 of its pending cases will be due to opioid toxicity, putting the final number for 2020 over 2,000. In 2019, Cook County confirmed 1,277 opioid overdose deaths. At that time, it was the highest total the County had ever seen. Of the 2020 confirmed cases, close to half are African American.

While overall suicide rates have not increased year over year, the rate of suicide in the black community increased dramatically in 2020. Blacks accounted for 94 of the 432 suicides in 2020. That’s 65 percent increase over 2019 which saw 57 suicides in the black community.

To access additional data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, please visit the case archive.

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Natalia Derevyanny