The capital has counted 63 homicides this year, up 50 percent over last year at this time. Three fatal shootings in the city’s poor neighborhoods over the Memorial Day weekend brought the total there to 30 homicides so far this year, prompting an urgent plea by residents and community leaders for safety and services.
Washington, D.C., has counted 63 homicides this year, up 50 percent over last year at this time, the Washington Post reports. Hardest hit has been Ward 8, which includes some of the city’s poorest and most troubled neighborhoods. Three fatal shootings there over the Memorial Day weekend brought the ward to 30 homicides so far this year, prompting an urgent plea by residents and community leaders for safety and services. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she was deploying extra resources to the area. Police said they would assign additional patrols, boost staffing for drug and gun squads, and add helicopter patrols. The D.C. Council on Tuesday approved additional money for violence prevention programs this summer.
Police attribute the killings largely to petty disputes, saying they see no trends driving the violence. The mounting shootings and stabbings are unsettling to neighbors and community leaders, particularly with the start of the summer months, which typically see a rise in crime. Police Chief Peter Newsham said officers have had a presence in the neighborhoods with increased violence and in many cases have been close enough to hear gunshots and respond immediately. Officers are “out engaging violent offenders,” Newsham said, vowing that “at the end of the day, we’re going to put a stop to this and have a very successful summer.” The rise has provoked memories of 2015, when killings spiked in the city and put residents on edge. Police officials then blamed repeat violent offenders and people using gunfire to settle trivial disputes. Even as they express concern over rising homicides, city leaders also stress that other types of violent crime — robberies, assaults and sex abuse — are on the decline.