Washington, D.C.’s mayor and police chief are urging tighter scrutiny of the legal processes that return repeat gun offenders to city streets and to repeated rounds of violence as the leaders confronted yet another raft of shootings over Labor Day weekend that resulted in the death of one man and the wounding of seven others, reports the Washington Post. The call for heightened attention to how police, courts, prosecutors and probation officers handle gun offenders with previous convictions or run-ins with the law is the latest focus for city officials trying to explain the alarming rise in homicides this year.
Mayor Muriel Bowser highlighted a case in which a man wanted in a shooting on a Metrobus last month had spent four months behind bars after admitting that he shot two youths in the legs in February. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said more than half of the suspects arrested in this year's homicides had prior gun arrests, up from 27 percent last year. She said 21 homicide suspects and 26 homicide victims were under court supervision, such as probation, at the time of the killings, and that six homicide victims and 10 homicide suspects had faced prior charges in killings. Noting that 14 of 24 people arrested in 34 gun seizures last week had prior weapons-related arrests, Lanier said, “To take guns off the same person over and over and over again is just unacceptable.” The Labor Day shootings began shortly before 10 p.m. Monday, when gunmen opened fire in a commercial strip near the new headquarters for the U.S. Coast Guard and the city's new homeland security headquarters.