WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- D.C. officials announced they are re-launching the District's illegal gun initiative, about an hour before D.C. police said they were investigating their 98th homicide of 2015.
In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, D.C Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that officials are going to do everything they can to make the community safer in the wake of a violent summer that has seen the District's homicide rate jump 35 percent compared to this time last year.
In recent days, officials have blamed the spike in homicides on access to illegal guns. So far this year, the Metropolitan Police Department has taken 944 illegal guns off the street, according to the mayor's office.
In a desperate effort to combat the rise in homicides, Mayor Bowser is offering $10,000 for information on shootings that leave someone injured and boosting the reward for information about illegal guns to $2,500.
"This is not normal. This is not how your lives are supposed to be," said Mayor Bowser during the press conference.
Chief Lanier said most of the illegal guns are being purchased around D.C.'s borders at gun shows in Maryland and Virginia.
"We have to get these guns of the street and we have to bring people to justice," said Lanier. "We would like the community to now step up with us and help prevent any more of these tragedies."
The press conference was held about an hour before D.C. police announced the body found in Southeast D.C. on Tuesday morning was being investigated as a homicide. This is the 98th homicide in D.C. this year and fourth such one in the last two days.
Lanier has faced increased criticism lately about some of her initiatives to combat the violence, specifically putting officers under posts in fixed tents in certain neighborhoods.
"Instead of getting the vice officers out there, motivating our officers appropriately, she's putting them under pop-up canopies and basically embarrassing them," D.C. Police Union Secretary Marinos Marinos said.
Lanier defended that strategy during the press conference.
"If it's what the community members are asking for and if it's what's effective at communicating with the young people coming out of the rec center, I think there's nothing wrong with that strategy," Lanier said.
Additional overtime hours have been issued in the Sixth and Seventh Districts to help toward the gun initiative, Lanier said.
"This is not how life is supposed to be and we're going to link arms to make it better," said Mayor Bowser about the recent crime spike in D.C.
The motives in these shootings have been all over the place, ranging from an argument over a craps game, to people throwing rocks, to a baby crying.
Police and the Mayor's Office are asking the residents of the District to help identify people who carry illegal firearms. If you have any information please call 202-727-9099 or text 50411.
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