Fatal Shooting Sets Record in Pr. George's

By Allan Lengel and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A man was shot to death last night in the Riverdale Park section of Prince George's County, raising the number of homicides in the county this year to a record.

The slaying in the 6300 block of 64th Avenue was the 155th of the year in the suburban Maryland county. The old record, 154, was set in 1991.

The name of the man who was killed about 7:45 p.m. on the rain-splashed residential street just west of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway was not released.

But the few facts available conformed to what police have said are the characteristics most typical of a homicide in Prince George's this year.

The slaying was committed with a gun, as were more than four out of every five this year. It occurred outdoors. The victim was black and in his twenties, as were many of the other victims, police said. And, matching the most likely time and place, he was shot on a Monday night inside the Capital Beltway.

As of late last night, there was no information about suspects or a motive.

A man at the scene who talked briefly to a Washington television station said he saw at least two people flee after the shooting.

The man told WTTG-TV (Channel 5) that he "saw them jump [a] fence" to get away.

He said he saw that one of them was wearing a mask when the person was partly over the fence and turned back to help someone else.

Other people interviewed in the neighborhood, which includes a low-rise, red-brick apartment complex, said they had not seen or heard anything about the shooting.

The last reported homicide in the county occurred Thursday in Oxon Hill. In that shooting, a 26-year-old man was found shot at his home on Alice Avenue.

After that killing, Police Chief Melvin C. High said the high total was "clearly not a place we want to be." But he said his department was "working hard" to change things.

He said he believed that his strategy to combat crime was having an effect and that it would reduce the number of homicides next year.

As evidence of the efficacy of police efforts, he cited the 13 homicide arrests that were made in 10 days this month.

High's crime-fighting strategy includes placing emphasis on getting drugs and guns off the streets. Many of this year's homicides have been linked to drugs, guns or both.

As another part of the county's effort to curtail crime, the police department, which is authorized to have 100 more officers than the current 1,300, is engaged in a hiring drive.

Although homicides and some other violent crimes are often committed at night, it was not immediately clear why the county has experienced a high frequency of homicides on Monday nights compared with other nights.

In the District, 171 homicides have been reported this year. The record for homicides in the city is 482. Like the former Prince George's record, it was set in 1991.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company