HANLEY HILLS, Mo. – One display at a Hanley Hills church is a somber reminder of how deadly this year has been in St Louis. Nearly 200 white crosses bear the names of homicide victims in the City of St Louis.

It’s a moving site to see at Mt. Beulah Missionary Baptist Church. Row-by-row and cross-by-cross, it marks the victims of homicides this year in St. Louis City.  

It’s an end of the year tradition no one wants to continue.

“I really don’t want to keep doing this,” said Rev. E.G. Shields Sr., pastor of the Mt. Beulah Missionary Baptist Church. “Leaving behind someone who loved them, very dearly, and cared for them. We do it as a constant reminder. These people are not just a number, not just statistics. They are a person who was loved and cared for by people they let behind.”

As of Friday, there have been 198 homicides reported in St. Louis City this year, according to statistics from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. At this time last year, there were 196 homicides reported in the city In 2020, it was a record 263. 

St Louis County also reported 43 homicides this year, which is down from last year’s total of 55. There were also 54 reported homicides in St. Louis County in 2020. This  does not include the number of homicides in other municipalities within the county.

Rev. Shields is calling for the violence to end.
  
“I just hope as people see these crosses. It is a reminder we just stop the killing,” said Shields.
 
The most recent murder in St. Louis County was Thursday afternoon, when police discovered 16-year-old Jaylen Miles dead from a single gunshot wound in the backyard of a vacant home on Spring Garden Drive. 
 
Keisha Hill tells FOX 2 that she knew Miles and is still devastated after she also lost her sister to gun violence. Her sister, 25-year-old Tamella Buchanan, was found deceased with multiple gunshot wounds in the 2800 block of North Taylor in 2018.

Police are still investigating that case, but have no new leads. Hill is wondering when will the violence end.
  
“My heart breaks for him,” said Hill. “I have been here a year almost. I use to see him going back and forth to the store. He was quite a dude. He did not deserve it at all,“ said Hill.

On Saturday, elected officials and members of the St. Louis community will gather from 3-5 p.m. at the Williams Temple Church of God in Christ (1500 Union Boulevard) in memory of homicide victims.