The number of girls slain in the District soared to a three-year high last year, and all of the city's two dozen juvenile homicide victims were black, according to a police study to be released today during a D.C. Council hearing exploring the roots of youth violence.
The hearing comes after the number of youths slain in the District doubled last year.
Last February, family and friends released balloons in honor of Jahkema "Princess" Hansen, 14, above, killed after she witnessed a slaying.
(Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
More than 40 people, ranging from victims' relatives and top police officials to national experts on violence, are to testify starting at 10 a.m.
Among the statistics in the study of last year's 24 juvenile homicides:
Nine girls were slain, up from two in 2003. Five were killed by a family member or caregiver.
Half of the victims were 15 or younger. In the two previous years, about a third of slain youths were in that age group.
All but one victim in the past three years was black, making the rate nearly the same as the percentage of adult homicide victims who are black.
Ten of the 14 known suspects were adults.
Eighteen victims were killed by gunfire.
D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) said yesterday that the statistics were sobering, particularly in light of the drop last year in overall killings.
The District recorded 197 homicides last year, the lowest annual total in nearly two decades.
"To see the crossing line, where homicides are going down and juvenile homicides are going up, that is a very disturbing statistic," Patterson said.
"There are facts here that policymakers can do something with," she added.
D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said he asked his department to study the juvenile homicide victims to get a better grip on the problem.
"We are talking about child deaths, and that has more meaning from the standpoint of the urgency to solve the problem," Ramsey said. "You don't want to see youngsters getting killed."
Young people were among last year's most publicized homicide victims.
Jahkema "Princess" Hansen, 14, was shot several times in January, just days after witnessing a slaying in her neighborhood.
In February, James Richardson, 17, was fatally shot inside Ballou Senior High School.
And Chelsea Cromartie, 8, was killed in her aunt's home in May when a stray bullet pierced a window.
There were other cases, involving juveniles killed in stolen cars or youngsters caught up in drug disputes, that drew less attention.
Ramsey said another recent police analysis showed that 15 or 16 of the youths were engaged in dangerous or illegal activity.