28 dead and counting. Lexington’s homicide count breaks record with 2 months to go.

The fatal shooting of a 51-year-old man and the strangulation of a 37-year-old woman Thursday night were Lexington’s 27th and 28th homicides of the year, breaking a record set in 1999 and tied in 2001.

Anthony Carter, 51, was found at about 6:17 p.m. Thursday with a gunshot wound outside an apartment building on Jeffrey Court in the Cardinal Valley neighborhood. He died at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital at 3:44 a.m. Friday, according to the Fayette County coroner.

Kimberly Dianne Dayton died of asphyxiation just before 9 p.m. Thursday at 1053 Winburn Drive, according to the Fayette County Coroner’s Office. Police were initially investigating her death as suspicious, but the coroner’s office ruled it a homicide Friday afternoon.

Lexington police Lt. Matt Brotherton said Thursday that he thought the victim and the shooter knew each other. Initially, Carter’s injuries weren’t thought to be life-threatening.

If Carter and the shooter knew each other, his death could fall into a pattern of violent crime described Monday by Police Chief Mark Barnard.

“The majority of homicides in Lexington this year were the result of involvement in high-risk criminal activities, ongoing disputes between known suspect and victims, and domestic violence,” Barnard said in a statement released to media.

In 17 of the 18 homicide cases that have been solved this year, the victim knew the assailant somehow, according to Lexington police spokeswoman Brenna Angel.

“Like many cities across the country — large and small — Lexington is experiencing an increase in drug abuse and violent crime. Overall, however, we remain a safe community,” Barnard said.

Before the latest slaying, Lt. Albert Johnson said he’s not alarmed about the increase of homicides in the city.

“Historically — I’ve been here 21 years — it’s an ebb and flow with homicides,” Johnson said. “We have years where we can have 24 to 25, and the next year you may have 12. So I don’t get overly alarmed when I see numbers increase. It’s proven that it will traditionally go back down.”

Johnson also said that drugs are involved in a large percentage of the homicides.

The growing population in Lexington also is a factor in the increase, Johnson said.

“We have a growing population; we’ve had a growing population for the last several years,” he said. “When you have that kind of increase, crime tends to increase as well.”

Barnard said the department’s focus “has been and continues to be on solving cases and seeking justice for victims and their families. Detectives have worked countless hours thoroughly investigating each case. With help and cooperation from the community, we can and will continue to make arrests.”

Mike Stunson: 859-231-1324, @mike_stunson