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SAN DIEGO – Violent crimes have gone up in San Diego County since the pandemic started with murders up nearly 29%, law enforcement data shows.

According to statistics from the FBI, aggravated assault cases county-wide were up by more than 600 in 2020.

San Diego Police Chief David Nesleit said the numbers started to go up last spring, coinciding with the start of the pandemic, George Floyd protests and skyrocketing gun sales across the country.

“Gun assaults were up 28%, which is very alarming,” Chief Nesleit said. “There’s more firearms on the street, more of our citizens are carrying them.”

Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Escondido, La Mesa, National City, Oceanside and San Diego all saw an increase in violent crime. The only decreases were in Coronado and El Cajon.

“I think it’s a very complex issue. I think a lot of it has to do with COVID anxiety, fear, people out of work, kids out of school. And the propensity for violence right now seems to be increasing,” Chief Nesleit said.

Chief Nesleit reported some good news. Nearly every city in the county reported a drop in non-violent crimes in 2020 with the exception of National City, Coronado and Escondido.

The city of San Diego had an 8.4% reduction in overall crime last year while experiencing a 1.7% increase in local violent crime.