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With roughly 40 homicides projected for North Charleston in 2017, city officials say they're working to quell the violence and are calling on the community to join in the effort. File/Staff

A 21-year-old man is killed outside of a convenience store after an argument. A 17-year-old is found shot to death almost 12 hours after initial reports of gunfire. An 18-year-old is shot in the chest outside of an apartment building.

From 1 a.m. on Jan. 1 through mid-afternoon on Oct. 10, North Charleston saw 32 such killings, matching the record set in 2016 for the city's deadliest year on record.

If the pace continues, the city would be on a course for about 40 homicides by the end of 2017.

Despite the record statistics, officials say they are taking action to quell the violence and address issues they believe are causing the spike in crime. 

Councilwoman Dot Williams, whose district includes some of the neighborhoods that have been most-heavily impacted, praised the police department's work.

"The amount of cars that they have stopped and (inside) every car there's weapons, drugs; I am very proud because of their professionalism," Williams said. "They're doing an excellent job."

A large part of the problem lies in a "no snitching" culture that keeps residents from bringing information to authorities and in what some see as a revolving door where suspects are released from custody only to commit crimes shortly after, she said. It's up to the community to step up.

"All the parents and grandparents of these young adults, they need to come forward," Williams said. "(Most) of those who get killed, someone knows who did it. All I can do is beg."

While no one wants to see a friend or family member arrested, turning them in would help break the cycle of retaliation, she said. 

An analysis of homicide statistics from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting database for cities with a population between 100,000 to 249,999 residents, shows North Charleston has seen more killings than other cities its size.

In 2016, the average number of homicides per 100,000 residents for cities in that population range was 6.5; North Charleston's rate was 28.96.

In 2015, the average rate was 6.2, while North Charleston's rate was 17.42. In 2014, the average was 5.7 versus 21.78 for North Charleston. In 2013, the average was 5.6 versus 12.58 for North Charleston; and in 2012 the average was 5.8 versus 12.91 for North Charleston. 

The city's population as of 2016 was 110,490.

At the current rate, North Charleston would see a homicide rate of 35.83 per 100,000 residents in 2017, its highest rate among years for which FBI data is available. 

After multiple requests for interviews with Mayor Keith Summey and with Police Chief Eddie Driggers were not granted, The Post and Courier received a statement on behalf the city of North Charleston and the police department.

"One death is one to many," Summey said in the statement. "The men and women of the North Charleston Police Department work daily to keep the citizens of North Charleston safe. The police department and city leaders will continue to work with and rely on our citizens to report crime and work collaboratively with the city to eradicate the criminal elements from our neighborhoods."

For Williams and other council members, the solution to the city's crime problem lies in community policing and in youth outreach.

"All of us have a great concern," said Councilman Bob King. "We need more community involvement."

Both King and Williams pointed to some positive developments on the horizon, such as efforts to bring a vocational school for high school-aged students to the city.

Such a program could help steer youth away from crime and the narcotics trade by giving them the skills they need to find manufacturing jobs with Boeing, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz and other firms that have flocked to the area. 

"We have to clean our own house," Williams said. "I'm willing to work with anyone willing to help."

Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.