A chart Saturday listing the number of homicides in area jurisdictions included incorrect information about Loudoun County. There has been one homicide in the country in 1990, the first since 1985. (Published 11/27/90)
A 17-year-old student and two other people were killed in the District yesterday, bringing the number of homicides in 1990 to 436 -- a record for the third consecutive year.
The upward spiral of violence that began in 1986 has now claimed 1,661 lives in the city.
The killings have continued to increase despite evidence that drug use in the city -- the prime reason for the wave of intensified violence -- is declining.
The proportion of slayings classified by police as drug-related has fallen from 66 percent in 1988 to 52 percent last year to 39 percent this year, according to police statistics.
The number of juveniles and adults testing positive for drug use after being arrested has dropped slightly in the last year.
All that makes the homicide record frustrating to police, especially Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr., who has vowed to resign if the homicide rate doesn't decline.
"The community is still not angry enough about death and violence on the streets of Washington, D.C.," Fulwood said yesterday at a news conference to announce a new holiday police detail. "We have to get a lot more angry about young people being killed.
"People in this city love drugs. There's no other way to describe it."
It is a theme Fulwood has sounded in the past, arguing that the police department alone cannot address what he calls society's skewed sense of values.
The violence of the last few years -- which seemed to spin out of control about 1987, when the wave of crack cocaine hit Washington's streets -- has had a profound and lasting effect on a generation here. More than 400 of those killed this year have been black, the great majority male.
As of Wednesday, 63 juveniles had been charged with homicide, just two fewer than in 1989, and a sign that the number of young killers continues be significant. It is a relatively recent phenomenon for police, who recorded 60 juvenile arrests for homicide between 1980 and 1987. The number of juvenile victims is down this year -- 28, compared with 40 for all of 1989.
"At the rate we're going, the next generation is going to be extinct," said Lt. Reginald Smith, a department spokesman.
Fulwood, who said he was saddened by the homicide record, stood by his vow that he would resign if the rate does not decline. He said he has not set a fixed date, but has expressed his views "briefly" to Mayor-Elect Sharon Pratt Dixon.
"You never set a deadline for yourself, but you always weigh what your options are," Fulwood said. "A smart man does that, and I consider myself a smart man."
In this year alone, the department has added about 1,200 recruits. It has deployed more officers at night, when homicides generally occur, and recently formed a 100-member unit to combat street violence.
At the same time, a city sometimes referred to as the murder capital of the country saw Mayor Marion Barry convicted of cocaine possession, a wrenching spectacle that highlighted the destructive nature of drug addiction. There have been drug-related kidnappings and executions, a "mob-style" hit in which the victims' faces were bound in duct tape, a killing over a leather jacket and the beating death of an elderly widow. Weeks after his conviction, Barry was calling for the National Guard to work the streets -- a proposal he later dropped.
Just why the number of homicides continues to rise while drug use appears to be declining is not easily answered. Some police officials and criminologists believe it is evidence of a shrinking drug market, which pits well-armed drug dealers and groups against one another.
In the region, police in Prince George's County are seeing a marked decrease in the homicide rate and the number of drug-related killings. The county, the suburban jurisdiction whose problems with drugs and violence most nearly resemble the District's, has had 109 homicides this year, compared with 118 at the same time in 1989. In Fairfax and Montgomery counties, where drug-related killings have not been a problem, authorities say domestic violence has driven up the homicide rate.
The most comprehensive statistics, released by the FBI in October, show an 8 percent nationwide increase in homicides during the first six months of this year.
As in the District, the consensus is that this surge in violent crime is partly driven by the availability of guns.
Police had few details on yesterday's killings. Two of the victims -- Reginald Cobb, 17, and an unidentified woman in her mid-twenties -- were found dead in separate areas of the District. Both had been shot repeatedly, and police said there are no suspects or motives in either case.
Cobb, of Logan Way in Bladensburg, was found at 12:40 a.m. in the 1200 block of Clifton Street NW, near Cardozo High School. The woman was found shortly after 3:30 a.m. on the 200 block of 53rd Street NE, across from Richardson Elementary School.
The third slaying occurred about 12:30 p.m. yesterday in the 1300 block of 11th Street NW. Police said the victim, who was 27 and whose name was being withheld until relatives could be notified, was stabbed during an apparent domestic dispute. Chanson Papillon, 25, of the 200 block of K Street NW, turned himself in to police, and was charged with homicide.
The year's homicide total in the city is now 39 more than it was at this time in 1989. In 1989, the city broke the previous year's record on Nov. 1. In 1988, the District broke the record on Oct. 31.
This year, 78 percent of the victims have been shot. Fulwood said only a national gun control law -- which he and some other police chiefs endorse -- would help reduce the killing.
The police department, which now has 16 more homicide investigators than it did a year and a half ago, has made arrests in about 60 percent of the killings this year. That is an improvement from 1989, when 56 percent of the homicide cases resulted in arrests.
Elsewhere in the region, where drug-related killings have not been a major factor, domestic violence has driven up the homicide rate this year.
Fairfax County, which had a record 28 homicides in 1989, has had 25 this year, most a result of domestic violence, police said.
As of Nov. 21, there had been 25 homicides in Montgomery County. There were 21 homicides there in all of 1989. Since Oct. 17, there have been six homicides in the county. Three of the slayings involved individuals who allegedly were killed by roommates. In one case, a 71-year-old woman was killed during a robbery attempt, allegedly by a 25-year-old man who later robbed his parents.
In Arlington, there have been 10 homicides this year, compared with only one in all of 1989, most of them also stemming from domestic disputes, county officials said. None appears to be drug-related.
In Alexandria, police have reported eight homicides this year, the same number as in all of 1989.
In Howard County, there have been five homicides this year, five fewer than in all of 1989.
And in Anne Arundel County, police said there have been nine homicides, compared with 20 for all of last year.
Nationwide, violent crime is up 10 percent, and police agencies elsewhere are contending with record increases in homicides this year.
New York City is expected to break last year's record-setting pace of 1,905 homicides. New York City Police Commissioner Lee J. Brown predicted earlier this year that the city, now averaging six homicides a day, will probably surpass 2,000.
Boston, which is about the size of the District, is approaching its all-time homicide record of 135 slayings, set in 1973. The city has recorded 128 homicides, and, responding to the gruesome Halloween night gang rape and beating death of a woman, Mayor Raymond Flynn is discussing a curfew. Richmond broke its homicide record when it recorded its 102nd slaying earlier this month.
Large cities such as Denver have seen increases in homicide rates during the first half of the year by as much as 29 percent; Chicago, Dallas and New Orleans were up by more than 20 percent each, and Los Angeles went up 16 percent.
Staff writers Patricia Davis, Amy Goldstein, Stephanie Griffith, Veronica T. Jennings, Robert O'Harrow, Debbie M. Price, Camille Ross, Jeff Rowland and Carlos Sanchez contributed to this report.