The last few weeks have seen a spike in homicides and violent crimes across D.C. and neighboring suburbs, particularly in Prince George’s County. Since Oct. 21, there have been more than 12 homicides and many assaults and robberies around the District.

On Halloween night there were six separate shootings in the District alone, one of them resulting in the death of a 17-year-old male. Most of the victims have been young Black males, ages 19 to 40. One of the most recent victims was a popular Howard University student.

Alonzo Guyton, 24, was found lying on the sidewalk in the 4200 block of Kaywood Drive in Prince George’s County about 1 a.m. on Oct. 25, suffering multiple gunshot wounds.

Police said that “Zo,” as he was popularly known, reportedly had been staying with a friend in the Kaywood Gardens in Mount Rainier. The night of the slaying, neighbors called police to report the sound of gunfire shortly after midnight.

Mount Rainier Police Chief Michael E. Scott said Guyton had been shot in the back and the head. His wallet also was missing, leading police to believe armed robbery was the motive.

William Knight, 20, of the 800 block of Kennedy St. NE in the District, was subsequently arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection with Guyton’s death.

Investigators said Knight’s handprints and a gun were found in a blue van that a witness saw leaving the scene of the shooting. Shortly afterwards, the same van was involved in a minor car accident and later found to be stolen. An arrest warrant was served to Knight at D.C. Jail Oct. 28 where he was being held on a “separate undisclosed charge,” police said.

Guyton, a music major, was a member of the gospel group “Voice of Promise.” He was also a member of the university’s marching band as well as the football and baseball teams. Guyton had served in the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps before deciding to attend Howard University.

Guyton was a popular and radiant individual on campus.

“He always seemed to have a smile,” said senior Martia Johnson. “It has affected everyone.”

“He was the kind of person that if we went out to eat, he would pay for everyone every time,” said Guyton’s friend Jordan Taylor.

Guyton’s friends and family said he loved to sing and was always learning to play new instruments. “He was a very good young man,” his uncle, Charlie Guyton, said.

“He aspired to do great things in the music field.”

“The University community mourns the loss of music major Alonzo Guyton,” Howard President Sidney A. Ribeau said in a statement. “We deeply regret the untimely death of this promising young man who was very active at Howard and well loved by his peers, faculty and the staff who worked closely with him. We extend our condolences and prayers to his family, friends and those who knew him.”

Guyton’s death has increased awareness and concern among area residents about the recent spike in crime. “There’s nothing we can do about it but try to stay safe and pray,” Hastings Wyman told ABC 7 news.

On Oct. 20, Demetrius Emmanuel Thompson of Southeast D.C. was found lying in the street of the 2300 block of Alabama Ave. shortly after midnight. Surveillance video released showed two suspects boarding a W4 Metrobus, which Thompson was riding, threatening then shooting Thompson multiple times.

Vincent Gray, 21, also from Southeast D.C. and 22-year-old Derlon Atchison of Northeast were later arrested in Orlando, Fla. and charged with Thompson’s death.
During Howard University’s Homecoming weekend, there were more than five separate incidents in which lives were taken. A campus-wide alert was issued Oct. 22 after Keenan Jerel Lee of Capitol Heights, Md., was shot multiple times at Georgia Avenue and V Street NW. Four people carried Lee to nearby Howard University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to The Washington Post, Lee apparently was shot in a dispute over a girl. “The guy just pulled a gun,” D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) told The Post. “You’ve got to be careful who you punch, you don’t know who has a gun in their pocket.”

About 4 a.m. that same day, a 40-year-old cab driver was shot to death in the 4300 block of Ponds St. NE. Rashad Terrel Slye of Southeast was arrested and charged in the killing of Domingo Ezirike of Prince Georges County during an argument over the cab fare. Slye also apparently robbed the victim.

On Oct. 26, 19-year-old Andre Wiggins of Northeast was shot to death in the 5200 block of Clay St. NE.

Despite the recent spike in crime, however, the District actually has the lowest crime rate it has seen in years. As of Oct. 28, there had been a total of 95 homicides, compared to 108 the same time last year, a 12 percent decrease. There were a total of 132 homicides in the year 2010 in D.C.


Malcolm Maurice

Special to the AFRO