But many of the homicides in East Baton Rouge also came from circumstances that don’t quite fit into a larger narrative. Fourteen of the cases were related to domestic violence — an amount officials have called remarkably high even in a state that consistently has one of the highest proportions of such deaths — and three slayings stemmed from two separate men accused of serial killings.

Dunnam also has discounted the first version of the theory, saying he has seen no evidence arrests have decreased or his officers are not working proactively. He also said community involvement improved in recent months, a change he surmised came from residents becoming “fed-up” with the violence.

Wearing a black shirt adorned with a colorful elephant and inscribed with the words ‘For Asha,’ Measha Davis spoke of the monthly meetings she’s held since March, which have consistently drawn about 15 women. The gatherings are meant to create a circle of trust among the women, Measha Davis said, especially for women who might be struggling with domestic abuse.

Nationwide, the majority of the largest cities, including Chicago, saw a decline in homicide rates in 2017 based on initially available data, which University of Missouri-St. Louis criminology professor Richard Rosenfeld said makes Baton Rouge further stand out.

Thailand Brooks, Asha Davis’ boyfriend, was indicted on a second-degree murder charge in June. He pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer Thomas Damico said officials have the wrong guy. Damico said there is no evidence that ties Brooks to the crime.

“I have not seen a spike of this magnitude in other places,” Rosenfeld said.

“It’s heartbreaking because no justice has been done,” Lee said. “They have so many murders. … They just happen too fast, too many, too fast. … It’s understandable (they have not solved Lee’s case), but it’s still unacceptable.”

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