The flurry of nine homicides in the District during the last four days may be partly explained by a seasonal fact of life in the city, D.C. police said.
In three of the last four years, the bloodiest season has been the final three months of the year, according to District homicide statistics.
The only recent year that didn't fit that pattern was 1989, and in that year, the first three months were the worst, suggesting a correlation between homicides and the colder months, officials said.
"These are times that we're at a loss for words," said D.C. police spokesman Reginald Smith. "One guess is that the closer we get to Christmas, depression seems to set in."
With six weeks left in this year, the city is once again poised to break the record for homicides for the third consecutive year.
Last weekend's spate of violence increased the number of homicides in the District to 431, seven fewer than the total 438 slayings for all of last year. At this time last year, the city had 396 homicides.
In October, there were 47 homicides here, the most for that month in at least five years.
And with 11 days left in November, the District is 11 homicides short of the five-year high for this month -- 43 -- set in 1988, the year the District assumed the mantle of murder capital of the nation.
Fifty were killed in the city in January of this year, two fewer than the all-time high for a single month, set the preceeding January. For the first three months of this year, there were 126 killings here, 99 for the next three months and 127 for the third quarter, over the summer. A little more than halfway through the current three-month stretch, there have been 79 slayings.
The number of shootings in the city, both fatal and not, also has been skyrocketing for several years. Each month this year, except for February and October, there have been more shootings than the same month in the previous year. Last month, there were 153 shootings here, compared with 213 the previous October.
There have been 1,830 shootings this year, compared with 1,879 for all of last year.
Smith said this year there also seems to be an increase in domestic violence, which was the motive police gave for the city's most recent homicide, which occurred Sunday in the 1600 block of D Street NE.
Melvin James Smith, 46, was charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of his wife, Mary Smith, who was shot to death in her home just before 5:30 a.m.
The weekend's other homicides included:
Darryl D. Waldrop, 20, of the 3800 block of Saint Barnabas Road in Suitland, shot to death shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday in the 2700 block of Georgia Avenue NW.
Sameer P. Bhatt, 18, of the 8600 block of 16th Street in Silver Spring, who died from gunshot wounds at 2 a.m. Sunday near Georgia and Arkansas avenues NW after getting into an argument with another motorist.
Leonard Albert Phelps, 26, of the 700 block of Park Road NW, who was shot and fatally wounded at 10:30 p.m. Saturday in the 200 block of V Street NW.
Ricardo C. Minnis, 28, of the 1000 block of Mount Olivet Road NE and a man whose identity was not released until relatives are notified, were both shot about 7:30 Saturday in the 1200 block of I Street SE.
Another unidentified man in his forties was stabbed to death about 7 p.m. Saturday in an alley in the 1700 block of 16th Street NW.
Angela White, 20, of the 1800 block of H Place NE, who died of gunshots about 11:30 p.m. Saturday in the 1900 block of H Street NE.
Christopher D. Taylor, 21, of the 1400 block of Fairmont Street NW, who died from gunshot wounds at 11:30 p.m. Friday in the 1500 block of Isherwood Street NE. Police have arrested Robert T. Roane, 24, of the 1300 block of E Street NE and charged him with murder.