More 2020 D.C. Homicides Than in All of Last Year

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With two fatal shootings in the opening days of November, more people have been killed in Washington, D.C., this year than in all of 2019, reports the Washington Post. The shootings Monday and Tuesday brought the city’s homicide count to 167, according to D.C. police, one over last year’s total count. The city last surpassed this number of killings in 2008. The two victims this week were found a mile from each other, but police do not think the two shootings are related. While many types of crime have slowed during the pandemic, D.C. has seen a rise in homicides and shootings. Police have attributed much of the violence to disputes involving neighborhood crews and gangs or between people who know one another. Police Chief Peter Newsham has blamed the spike in homicides on a proliferation of illegal firearms. He argues that many of those arrested are being treated too leniently by the criminal justice system and commit new offenses when they return to the community.

Gun violence has an outsize role in the District’s killings, with 87 percent of this year’s homicides committed with a firearm. That is up from 76 percent at this time last year. Ten juveniles between the ages of 11 and 17 have been killed this year. Last year, a dozen school-age children were fatally shot or stabbed. Despite the spike in homicides, overall crime in Washington is down this year, driven by drops in thefts and robberies. Thefts of vehicles and carjackings are up. The trends mirror those in many other large cities that also are seeing higher numbers of shootings and homicides, even as crime in other categories has fallen. Criminologists have given many explanations for the spikes in shootings and homicides, such as pandemic closures that have eliminated school and other structured settings, the faltering economy, unemployment and stress.

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