Keith Allen Bledsoe, the sixth teenage homicide victim in Lexington, Kentucky, this year, died as the other five had: by gunshot. On June 26, Lexington police found the 17-year-old Bledsoe’s body in the streets of Harris Court, a cul-de-sac near I-64. If confrontation or argument had preceded Bledsoe’s murder, none of the neighbors reported hearing it to police. If they heard gunshots, seemingly no one peered outside to investigate them. Officers reported no suspects or relevant witnesses, only shell casings and the gunshot wound to Bledsoe’s head. The person who called 911 didn’t report a shooting, instead telling operators about a “motionless” man on the ground around 2 a.m.
Gun deaths in Kentucky are spiking, particularly for young black men. From 2010 to 2017, Kentucky police arrested a suspect in only 52 percent of homicide cases where the victim was black, according to The Washington Post. (Seventy percent of Louisville’s homicide cases result in an arrest when the victim is white.) Many of Kentucky’s black deaths, in short, go the same way as Bledsoe’s: Someone is shot, and no one is called to justice.
There are lots of reasons for people to ignore gunfire when they hear it: They may be concerned about falling under police suspicion themselves, and in areas with high rates of gang violence, being seen as helping the police can make you a target. In Oakland, California, another high-crime city, the month of September saw 395 recorded instances of gunfire, but only 208 phone calls to police to report gunfire.