This study offers an examination of a sample of 150 homicides in Houston, Texas in 2020 as described by local news sources. The purpose was to understand dynamics that may explain what appears to be an increase in domestic disputes that led to increases in homicides. This mixed method study utilized content analysis that included quantifying the patterns of concepts in the news reports to isolate racial, gender and location factors. Data are displayed in tables and figures to illustrate patterns and regression analyses indicate predictive relations. The study is important given the recent homicide increases during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the substantial impact on families and communities. The data reveal that domestic disputes and access to firearms are evident in the increases. The study offers implications for micro and macro responses involving media coverage, interpersonal communication, community programming and messaging, law enforcement engagement, and justice system reforms.

Key Take Away Points

  • increase in homicide during COVID-19
  • decrease in police presence
  • majority of homicides are caused by guns

Author Biography

Ciarra Hastings Blow is a second-year doctoral student in Juvenile Justice Studies at Prairie View A&M University studying under Dean Camille Gibson. Before coming to Prairie View, she completed a postgraduate program: MA in Criminal Justice (2017-2018) at Midwestern State University. Before that, she received a BS in Criminal Justice (2014-2017) from Prairie View A&M University. Prior to that, she has experience as a leader in her community by starting a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). She began a program that allowed local youth, following the school-to-prison pipeline, a safe space to become involved in their studies without the fear of family violence. The topic of her Ph.D. research thus far is homicide in Houston, Texas, and LGBT+ youth criminality. She can be contacted at: chastings1@pvamu.edu.


Thank you to Dr. Camille Gibson for assisting me with the topic and being my editor-in-chief.