Slaying Toll Already Equals Last Year's
Monday, November 19, 2007
The number of killings in the District this year already has reached the homicide count for all of last year, reversing a trend in which deadly violence had steadily declined over the past four years.[an error occurred while processing this directive]
With six weeks left on the 2007 calendar, the District has recorded 169 homicides. When the city tallied that number last year, it was the lowest homicide total in 21 years.
The rash of killings across the city presents a stark challenge to D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, in office since late last year. Lanier's predecessor, Charles H. Ramsey, spent millions of dollars in overtime to get more police on the streets several times when homicides spiked.
The most recent killing was discovered late Saturday when police responded to reports of shots being fired and found Timothy Spicer, 25, in a parking lot outside the Anacostia Metro station, police said. He had been carjacked and shot multiple times, police said.
Spicer was the second person fatally shot in the city over the weekend. The body of Raymond Carpenter, 28, was found in the 3100 block of Buena Vista Terrace SE Saturday morning.
"We're in the middle of a crime crisis," said D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who has been outspoken about a surge of violence in his ward.
Lanier said she's studying the homicide spike in hopes of determining its cause. Killings steadily grew through the year, and the pace picked up in recent months.
"There's a whole lot of things that play into it," Lanier said.
Among her theories: Neighborhood gangs are having more violent flare-ups, and criminals are using assault rifles and other guns with more firepower.
In other areas of the Washington region, the picture is mixed. As of last week, homicides were down in Montgomery County, with 13 so far this year, compared with 20 all of last year. In Prince George's County, they are up, with 123 to date, compared with 113 at the same time last year.
In Virginia, there were 10 killings in Fairfax County, three fewer than this time last year. Prince William County has eight, compared with 13 at this time last year.
Across the country, the picture also varies. Homicides in the first six months of 2007 were down in some cities, including Los Angeles, New York, Houston and Minneapolis. But they rose in others, among them Baltimore and Oakland, Calif.