COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Three shootings within three hours overnight has left Columbus police searching for solutions to an upward trend of homicides.

The shootings put the city’s year-to-date homicide total at 50, a significant jump from the 33 reported by this time last year. While still down from a record-high of 65 by this time in 2020, it’s an increase troubling Columbus police and city leaders.

The first shooting happened at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday night on the 3700 block of Knightsway Lane. Police said a man was shot by his girlfriend, who thought he was an intruder. His last known condition was critical.

About two hours later, police said a 24-year-old employee at a Shell gas station in Franklinton was shot and killed during a robbery.

Twenty minutes later, at 1:10 a.m., police found a man shot in the face in Downtown Columbus. His position was upgraded to stable.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein called the trio of shootings troublesome.

“We want our community to be safe, certainly public safety is my top priority, both as a prosecutor, and as an advisor to the division of police, working with them to make sure we have strong and safe neighborhoods is my number one goal,” Klein said.

Klein said gas stations and convenience stores are hotspots for crime in the city. His office has the power to take action and shut down locations if they are able to link multiple violent incidents to a specific area. The fatal shooting at the Shell gas station now has the location on Klein’s radar.

“We are taking a look at the Shell station over in Franklinton. It was not on our radar screen, which is a good thing. It means it isn’t a frequent offender, but we’re going to keep an eye on it and see how things develop from here to make sure it doesn’t become a trend,” Klein said.

Klein said his office typically starts by building a safety plan with the owners, which can include things like adding more lighting and security cameras, closing public restrooms and bringing in security.

NBC4 asked newly-instated Public Safety Director Kate McSweeneyPishotti for an interview, but she was unavailable.

“This kind of violence, clearly driven by easy access to guns, is unacceptable,” McSweeney-Pishotti said in a statement. “So far this year, Columbus Police have recovered 1,000 guns from our community- already outpacing last year’s record number. Our detectives are working non-stop to get violent criminals off our streets- solving 66% of this year’s homicides, and another 15 homicides from previous years. This is thanks to great police work, and increased help from the community. We ask our neighbors to continue to provide these critical tips to investigators, not only after violent crime has occurred, but also before, to help us prevent another tragic, avoidable loss of life.”

NBC4 also requested an interview with Mayor Andrew Ginther, who was unavailable. In a statement, he said the increase in violence is “truly disturbing.”

“We have to stay vigilant, bringing to bear the totality of our tools and resources to face this challenge head on. In the first quarter of 2023, there were 8 homicides involving domestic violence. These are not random acts of violence; they are tragedies taking place within families and households all across our city,” Ginther said. “This speaks to the importance of our comprehensive safety strategy, in particular our prevention and intervention tactics. We are doing our part to make sure our streets are safe, including standing up the city’s first-ever office of violence prevention, but we need everyone in the community to step up and do their part.”