Charlotte’s homicide rate ticked higher on Thursday as CMPD reported two new killings – the shooting of a Liberian business owner on N. Tryon Street and a fatal stabbing just off The Plaza in east Charlotte.

The latest killings brought to six the number of people who died in violent confrontations in the first 12 days of 2017. In 2016, the city averaged one homicide every five and a half days. This year’s rate, so far, is one every two days.

Charlotte’s fifth homicide of the year was reported Thursday at 2:12 p.m. in the 4400 block of N. Tryon Street. When officers arrived, they found business owner Massaquoi Kotay, 45, dead from a gunshot wound.

Kotay was owner of Mina African Mart, a store that sells foods imported from Africa. Police believe Kotay and his shooter had gotten into a fight inside the business.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Kotay was a prominent member of the city’s Liberian community.

Charlotte’s second killing on Thursday was reported just after 10 p.m. in the 500 block of Blendwood Dr., where paramedics had been dispatched to assist a stabbing victim, who died at Carolinas Medical Center.

Police later identified the victim as Milton Ricardo Graham, 37.

Charged with Graham’s death is Latisha Toloria Johnson, 31. A CMPD spokeswoman said Graham and Johnson were in a “long-term dating relationship” and that the stabbing was related to a domestic violence incident.

Johnson, who left the crime scene, was arrested and charged with 2nd degree murder.

According to the Observer, Charlotte’s homicide rate for 2016 was a seven-year high. The total homicide count as of Dec. 30 was 67, a higher number than at any time since 2008 and significantly above the city’s 10-year average of about 61.

Anyone with information about Thursday’s killings is asked to call 704-432-TIPS to speak with a homicide detective or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Founder and publisher of Qcitymetro, Glenn has worked at newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal and The Charlotte Observer.