OCALA, Fla. - Ocala city leaders spent much of the day on Monday returning calls, trying to debunk a new title they say they should have never gotten: Most gun-violent city in America.
On Friday, a report started making the rounds from Security.org, which put Ocala at the top of a Top 10 list of most gun-related incidents per 10,000 residents in 2018. The data that Security sourced to the Gun Violence Archive, showed Ocala having 28.9 gun-related incidents for every 10,000 residents in the city.
That average put the Central Florida city above major cities like Detroit, St. Louis and Baltimore. However, city leaders in Ocala say those numbers are simply wrong. In a press release Monday, city leaders wrote:
“Ocala Police Department (OPD) officials looked into the incident reports which were used to come up with these numbers. These reports included incident addresses which were outside the city limits in Marion County.”
According to the city, the population of Marion County is about 360,000, but the numbers on the archive seem to have instead been weighed against the city’s population of only about 60,000, leaders say, creating a drastically higher average. The press release went on to say:
“This is not factual. In fact, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data, the City of Ocala has only seen a small percentage change in violent offenses with a firearm. The Semi Annual report, which was completed in August of this year, shows a 15.71% increase in violent offenses with a firearm from 2018... NOT the 442% increase which is represented by the Archive's study.”
Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn said Monday that he has reached out to news organizations to set the record straight and that city staff has reached out to the Gun Violence Archive to get the data corrected.
As of publication, city leaders said they have not heard a response.
"Ocala and Marion County is a great place to live and work. It's safe. It's not what this article depicts,” Guinn said.
FOX 35 also reached out via email to the Gun Violence Archive and to Security.org for a response, but had not heard back as of the publication of this article.