WASHINGTON — Metropolitan Police Department officials called efforts to suppress violence in the city this past holiday weekend a success despite 15 shootings that left 14 people wounded and five dead.
One of the victims was a 16-year-old boy, who was shot and killed early Tuesday in the 700 block of Kenilworth Terrace NE.
Teenaged victim Levoir Simmons had been the subject of a critical missing person report in February of 2020.
Metropolitan Police reported Simmons had been found safe shortly after the bulletin went out.
They said the 16-year-old was not considered missing when he was shot and killed at 1:20 a.m. on Tuesday after what police described as an altercation between him and another individual.
A suspect has not been identified, according to officials.
Despite the tragedy, deputy MPD Police Chief Ashan Benedict explained there were actually fewer shooting victims over the holiday weekend than the prior weekend of June 24-26 which counted 23 victims.
Benedict said the department focused on policing large gatherings and neighborhood events during the Independence Day weekend which were peaceful.
He described that effort as a success.
Benedict added that four specific police posts that are receiving attention from the city’s violent crime initiative are also seeing a drop in violent incidents.
"It's been successful to this point," Benedict said.
"We started earlier this year, and now we're halfway through the year and homicides are down 14% in those (areas), assault with a deadly weapon are down 23%, and robberies are down 6%," Benedict added.
"Those communities are affected by gun violence historically. We put resources where we needed to, and we're seeing the gains from that.”
But the efforts in specific areas are not translating into a citywide reduction in homicides which overall is up 14% in 2022.
Gun seizures are on track to top 3000 in 2022, Benedict said.
Benedict pointed out that MPD needs to hire 500 officers. "We can't be everywhere," he said.
"We are down from functional 3800 (officers) down to 3500," Benedict said while pointing out the city paid more than a million hours of overtime in the past year.
"That's equivalent of hiring 500-something officers. So why don't we just hire them and not work our folks all the way down so there's so tired out in the street working weekends and holidays."