The recent spate of shootings east of the Anacostia River that left one young person dead and three others injured has left police scrambling for answers.
“It’s ridiculous and the community is tired of it. There is no excuse for it,” Police Chief Cathy Lanier was quoted as saying shortly after another rampage that occurred March 30 in Southeast Washington.
Those shootings, which occurred Easter week and claimed the lives of four teens, is being labeled as one of the city’s worst massacres in years. Two adult males and a teenager have been arrested in the case. The 14 year old had previously been identified by police as the driver of the van used in the drive-by shootings. But they later determined that the boy, who has a long past with police, had not been the driver.
A rash of gun violence also erupted May 1 in Northeast. A man was shot while sleeping in his car on Jay Street. A short time later, a 16 year old lay dying after being struck by several bullets on Edgewood Street. Three more shootings occurred that night on the corner of Southern Avenue and 51st Street.
Lanier’s spokeswoman, Gwendolyn Crump, told the AFRO in an e-mail that police have no information at this time to suggest that the May 1 shootings are related.
“Investigators are working tirelessly combing through the evidence and witness statements to try to close these cases,” Crump said. She added that May, June and July are months in which the District has historically seen an increase in violence.
Prior to the shootings, city and law enforcement officials had been in a celebratory mood in light of the dip in violent crime over the past year.
In 2009, the city reported 143 homicides, the lowest documented number in nearly 50 years. But criminal incidents remain a significant problem for the city, particularly in eastern neighborhoods where economic revitalization has been slow to launch.
Ward 8 Council Marion Barry said better education and support systems, which include more jobs, are needed for the city’s youth.
“If you look at all the young guys who’ve been involved in these recent shootings, none of them had a job,” said Barry. “In Southeast, 35 percent of the people are out of work – and among young people, it’s maybe about 50 percent. But we can’t just talk . . . We’ve got to take back the streets and get on those politicians’ cases that aren’t doing anything .”
To combat the problem, Crump said the department has stepped up enforcement to include three AHODS (All Hands on Deck— an initiative in which all available officers will be on duty and on patrol throughout the city) over the course of the upcoming three months. She added that although the city has incurred “an unfortunate uptick in violence” in recent weeks, it has maintained reductions in homicides which have decreased by 31 percent, while overall violent crime has had an 8 percent reduction.