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Spate of shootings brings deadly weekend in the District

The District has seen an uptick in violence, with at least three people slain over the weekend. (iStock)

At least 19 people have been shot, three of them fatally, in the District since Friday, a continuation of a violent year in which the city has struggled with illegal firearms and homicides.

The spate of shootings “really underscores the violence we have seen recently in our city,” D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said Monday. Pressed for possible reasons, he said, “People with guns. That’s the common denominator.”

Police said two shooting incidents occurred Friday, five each on Saturday and Sunday, and one early Monday afternoon. Several shootings involved more than one victim. All but one of the shootings occurred in Northeast or Southeast Washington. One was in Southwest.

The three fatal shootings, which claimed the lives of a man and a woman, both 20, and a 69-year-old man, brought to 118 the number of people killed in the District this year, according to Washington Post tracking. That is a 4 percent increase over this time in 2020. If the pace continues, 2021 will be the fourth consecutive year homicides have risen in the city.

Three people killed in separate shootings in Southeast D.C. amid spate of weekend gun violence

The first of the weekend’s homicides occurred Saturday about 1:45 a.m. in the 600 block of 53rd Street SE, in the Marshall Heights neighborhood.

Police said Juwaun Williams, 20, of Southeast, was fatally wounded from a gunshot wound to the head, and two other men were shot in the legs and arms and taken to hospitals for treatment. No arrest had been made as of Monday evening.

About 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, police responded to a residence in the 3000 block of Nelson Place SE near Dupont Park for the report of a shooting. Police said they found Kendall Brown, 20, of Hyattsville, injured. She died at a hospital.

Police said they arrested Amard Jefferson, 22, of Maryland, and charged him with second-degree murder while armed.

An arrest affidavit says the killing occurred inside a residence during a dispute among people who knew each other. The affidavit says there had been a falling-out involving one person’s new boyfriend and items left behind in an apartment.

About 6:15 p.m., police said they were again called to the Marshall Heights neighborhood for another shooting. Police said James Beckham, 69, of Suitland, was found fatally shot inside a vehicle. Authorities did not say if the two shootings in Marshall Heights might be related.

Relatives of the victims either could not be reached or said they did not want to discuss the cases publicly.

The violence comes after D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and some D.C. Council members had gone back and forth about whether to increase spending to hire new police officers for the department.

The city’s police department is down roughly 200 officers from last year. After several high-profile shootings, including the slaying of a 6-year-old girl, Bowser had pushed for $11 million be rerouted from infrastructure projects for later years and instead used to fund 170 new officers.

Thousands of bullets have been fired in this D.C. neighborhood. Fear is part of everyday life.

On Aug. 3, the council passed a scaled-back version of the mayor’s request, allowing the hiring of 20 new officers immediately and 40 more later.

After the passage of the budget, Contee said in an email that he was “disappointed” that his department received less money for hiring than it had wanted.

He said the department would have to “operate at its lowest level in more than two decades, and with more than 200 fewer officers than we had in September 2020 for a city that continues to grow in size.”

D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) and chair of the public safety committee, said the weekend violence marks a continuation of troubling trends that result in trauma for the communities involved. He said this is especially true in historically underserved neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, which experience disproportionate levels of gun violence and have also been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It shouldn’t be lost on people that the majority of communities where we see gun violence taking place are the same communities that have been ravaged so devastatingly by covid-19,” said Allen, who brokered the budget deal allowing Contee to hire some but not all of the new officers he wants.

“We have to recognize the severe trauma, and frankly loss of hope, that many people are experiencing over this last year and a half,” Allen said. “That plays out in terms of how people are trying to resolve conflict, where they feel violence is the only answer. We’re going to have to bring urgency with this whole-of-government approach. It isn’t just on MPD; every part of government, every part of the community should be stepping up.”

Ellie Silverman and Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff contributed to this report