STOCKTON (CBS13) – It’s a shocking statistic: Teens and young adults in San Joaquin County are more likely to be murdered than any other place in the country.

A new study says San Joaquin County is leading the state in homicides of young people at three times the rate of any other county in California.

Marissa Leon is a mother of two young boys and has a baby on the way.

“It’s scary to keep them safe and be a good influence,” she said.

Leon is hopeful the fact San Joaquin County is ranked number one for youth homicides in the entire state will continue to spark change.

The Violence Policy Center, based out of Washington, released the findings. The study includes murder victims ages 10 to 24. It’s about the same age range that prevention groups like Operation Peacekeeper are trying to help.

“There actually is a battle out there for the hearts and minds of these youngsters. So they become ripe for gangs and what have you, because that’s what they are taught on the street,” said Ralph Womack, Operation Peacekeeper.

The study is based on statistics from 2011, when the city of Stockton saw a record-breaking homicide rate of 58, which was followed by last year’s record-shattering murder count of 71.

The good news so far this year is homicides are down almost 63 percent compared to this time last year.

“What we’ve seen is how the community has been responding to the police department. They’ve been helpful in reporting crimes and actually submitting tips, telling us where these gang members are living,” Stockton police Officer Joseph Silva said.

While San Joaquin County came in at number one, nearby Stanislaus made the list at number nine.


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