Gun-Related Homicides Show Record Numbers in 2021: CCMEO

Office sees second-highest overall caseload in its history

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office (MEO) confirmed 1,002 gun-related homicides in 2021.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office (MEO) confirmed 1,002 gun-related homicides in 2021. (MGN)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office (MEO) confirmed 1,002 gun-related homicides in 2021, breaking the previous record of 881 set in 2020. The MEO released preliminary case data for 2021 today. However, opioid overdose deaths and COVID-19 infection deaths both individually exceeded the large number of gun-related homicides the MEO handled.

The Office handled a total of 1,087 homicides in 2021, 836 in the City of Chicago. That’s the first time the MEO has seen more than 1,000 homicides since 1994. Blacks were the victims of 80% of homicides and Latinos accounted for more than 14% of homicide deaths. Males accounted for 88% of homicide deaths. Eighty-six homicide deaths were under 18; 12 were under the age of 10.

Year All Homicides Gun-Related Homicides
2021 1,087* 1,002*
2020 986 881
2019 675 588
2018 724 598
2017 840 742

*Preliminary data

The MEO handled 12,618 cases in 2021, the second-highest number of cases the Office has handled in its history. The County handled a record 16,047 cases in 2020. Before the pandemic began, the Office saw approximately 6,200 deaths in an average year. Nearly 42% of all cases in 2021 were African American and just over 15% Latino.

COVID-19 Infection Deaths Surpassed Gun-Related Homicides

The County’s 4,497 COVID-19 infection deaths accounted for more than a third of the 2021 caseload.

Race/Ethnicity % of 2021 COVID-19 Cases
White (non-Latino) 43%
Black 31%
Latino 19%
Asian 3.6%
Native American < 1%
Other/Unknown < 1%

Opioid Overdose Deaths Surpassed Gun-Related Homicides

The County is also on pace to beat 2020’s record for opioid overdose deaths. While the Office still awaits the results of hundreds of toxicology tests, it has already confirmed 1,488 opioid overdose deaths for 2021. The MEO anticipates that approximately 600 – 700 of its pending cases will be due to opioid toxicity, putting the final number for 2021 over 2,000.

Year Opioid Overdose Deaths
2021 1,488*
2020 1,840
2019 1,295
2018 1,138
2017 1,167
2016 1,081
2015 647

*Preliminary data

Overall suicide rates in Cook County have remained consistent. Males continue to make up the majority of suicide deaths.

Year Total Suicides Black Latino White Asian Other Male/Female
2021 482* 19% 14% 59% 5.5% 2.5% 77%/23%
2020 453 22% 13% 58% 5% < 2% 79%/21%
2019 479 12% 16% 66% 6% < 1% 76%/24%

*Preliminary data

To access additional all data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, including gun-related homicides, please visit the case archive.