Washington DC recorded its 200th homicide of the year – the highest in nearly two decades – as the nation’s capital grapples with a surge in violent crime that police officials blame on ‘imprudent defunding’ after last year summer of unrest that has led to an exodus of cops.
It is the first time the city hit 200 homicides since 2003, according to police data. Last year, the city recorded 198 homicides, up 20 percent from 2019.
The DC Police Union released a statement citing policing reforms resulting from last year’s summer of social unrest following the death of George Floyd as the reason for the distressing spike in crime.
‘Police officers are hamstrung, if not altogether unable to do the impactful and necessary tasks needed to confiscate illegal weapons, apprehend criminals and protects communities,’ the statement read.
The statement also said the department currently has the lowest number of police officers in two decades, after 225 turned in their badges.
‘The council’s continued desire to reduce the size and funding of the police department hangs like a dark cloud over our city. Other major cities that have made similar imprudent efforts have also experienced mass exits of police officers and dramatic increases in crime rates,’ the statement said.
‘Since the passage of so-called ’emergency’ legislation in June of 2020, 417 police officers have separated from MPD. What is most alarming is that 54 percent of those that have left have resigned, while only 38 percent have retired. This means over 225 police officers turned in their badge and walked away. The total strength of the police department is now below 3,400, the lowest number in decades.’
The DC Police Union released a statement citing policing reforms resulting from last year’s summer of social unrest following the death of George Floyd as the reason for the distressing spike in crime, as the city recorded its 200th homicide in the year (file photo)
‘Police officers are hamstrung, if not altogether unable to do the impactful and necessary tasks needed to confiscate illegal weapons, apprehend criminals and protects communities,’ the statement read
It is the first time the city hit 200 homicides since 2003, according to police data. Last year, the city recorded 198 homicides, up 20 percent from 2019
The 200th victim of 2021 was a man fatally shot at a gas station in the 4700 block of S. Capitol Street in Southeast Washington shortly after 10 pm on Monday, police said.
Officers said there are no suspects or evident motives for the shooting at this time, and have not released the name of the victim.
Washington DC is now America’s 13th deadliest city with a murder rate of 23.52 homicides per every 100,000, CBS reported. Police said they’ve already seized more than 2,000 illegal guns in 2021.
Other causes for the rocketing crime have been blamed on slowed-down courts and emptied jails as a result of the pandemic.
On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser and city leaders announced a partnership with law enforcement and the ATF to incentivize tips reporting illegal firearms.
Those who call with a tip about an illegal gun won’t have to wait for a conviction to receive a reward of up to $2,500, as long as there is an arrest and seizure, Bowser said.
The reward could be up to $7,500 if the firearm is a ghost gun, or one with a conversion device.
On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser and city leaders announced a partnership with law enforcement and the ATF to incentivize tips reporting illegal firearms
Reacting to the announcement, DC Police Union President Gregg Pemberton told the Washington Times: ‘It is great to see the city acknowledging the necessity of law enforcement & the need for proactive efforts to reduce crime, but gun tips are only a small part of the solution to violent crime.’
Among the 200 homicide victims in DC this year was 6-year old Nyiah Courtney, who was struck by a stray bullet when she was walking with her family in Southwest Washington.
Marktwan Hargraves, 22, was charged with first-degree murder in the July 16 drive-by shooting outside of a liquor store.
He’s ‘no stranger to the criminal justice system,’ DC Police Chief Robert Contee III said during a press conference after Hargraves was arrested in July.
The area is a notorious ‘drug nexus’ where members of the MLK Crew drug organization has been ‘wrecking havoc’, Contee said.
About a dozen members of the MLK Crew were indicted on federal drug charges three days after the shooting, including Nyiah’s dad and another man who was with her the night of the shooting.
The day before, another person named in the federal MLK Crew indictment was shot in the same area.
On October 8, Washington DC city employee Nikiesha Thomas, 33, died after she was shot in a Planet Fitness gym parking lot by a man who later killed himself after going on the run.
Six-year-old Nyiah Courtney (left) was shot and killed on July 16 in a drive-by shooting in Congress Heights, in the south of the city. Marktwan Hargraves (right), 22, was charged with first-degree murder while armed in connection with
A mural was painted in honor of Courtney, who was about to start first grade
Thomas was sitting in her car when Antoine Oliver, 36, ran up to the parked vehicle and fired at least one shot through the car window in the 3200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington DC.
Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement Oliver fled the parking lot before carjacking a maroon SUV in Prince George’s County.
Officers were called to the armed carjacking near Minnesota Avenue and East Capitol Street, Northeast, at 12.49pm, but police said when cops stopped the stolen vehicle, Oliver took out a firearm and shot himself inside the car.
The suspect was taken to a local hospital where he later died as a result of his injuries and detectives said Oliver’s firearm was recovered from inside the carjacked vehicle.
Thomas, who worked for the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Educations’ Strong Start DC Early Intervention Program, was found by officers inside her car suffering from a gunshot wound.
Medics rushed the victim to the local hospital for treatment but police said she later died from her injuries.
On July 17, a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Diego Padres had to be suspended after a shooting just outside the stadium, which saw one bystander caught in the crossfire and injured.
And on July 22, two men opened fire on diners outside a restaurant in the bustling Logan Circle district, wounding two.
Fans rush to evacuate after hearing gunfire, during a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 17
Nikiesha Thomas died after she was shot in the head in a Planet Fitness gym parking lot by a man who later killed himself after going on the run
In July, Bowser that the city needs more officers to cope with the rise in crime. Pictured are officers inspecting the scene of a July 22 shooting along 14th Street in the heart of the city
In July, Bowser announced a plan to add 170 police officers to the city’s force amid rising violent crime.
Bowser, a Democrat, said that she had requested an additional $11million from the City Council to pay for the hiring and training of 20 additional officers in the 2021 financial year, and 150 additional officers in 2022.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) normally hires 250 officers each year, but last year the DC Council decided to defund the police to the tune of $15million – to the disapproval of the mayor.
She said that, amid rising crime, she told the MPD to make officers work overtime – but said that more needed to be done in the long term.
‘Right now, I have directed MPD to use any overtime necessary to meet our public safety demands,’ Bowser said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Bowser has strongly supported Black Lives Matter, but like President Joe Biden has opposed defunding the police.
‘I am concerned about the shrinking numbers, and it has been a hallmark of my tenure to get the number of police officers up,’ she told Fox News.
‘We have to make sure we continue to make the case with members of the council to ensure that there is funding for the number of officers we need.’