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DC Mayor says we must take a stand against youth violence

The mayor's comments come one day after a 17-year-old was killed outside of his high school and a 10-year-old died after being shot on Mother's Day

WASHINGTON — Thursday was a difficult day for many Roosevelt High School students after the death of their classmate. 

Relatives tell WUSA9 that recently 17-year-old Jefferson Perez had been getting into fights with gang members. 

On Wednesday, he was shot and killed in the parking lot of the school. 

A school resource officer was on scene but could not stop the shooting.

“We know school was not dismissed and some kids including him came outside so we will have more to say about that,” said Mayor Bowser. "I don't want to get ahead of police in the investigation, but I think they will have more to stay about it."

Police tell us the investigation is ongoing. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Bowser fielded questions Thursday about the violence impacting our young people, including 10-year-old Ariana Davis. 

Her mother's coworkers have set up a GoFundMe to support her family.

“There's nothing,” the Mayor said as she was shaking her head, “really words can't express how tragic it is.  A baby girl in a car just living her life. We have to have a city that says, ‘enough is enough’ we won't tolerate people using guns and killing our children and I've said it in every way I know how.”

The Mayor is urging the DC Council to pass her crime bill calling for tougher penalties for gun crimes and more leeway for judges to hold defendants before trial. 

A spokesperson from Councilmember Brooke Pinto’s office said the Mayor’s legislative package will have a cost and therefore is not ripe for consideration by Council on emergency basis. CM Pinto, Chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, continued in a statement saying:

“I am committed to expeditiously holding hearings on the Mayor’s legislation and am working with my team to determine the earliest possible date to do so that still conforms with notice requirements and Council policies. It is vitally important that we move forward with this legislation deliberately and hold public hearings to allow the public to share input."

Chairman Mendelson sent WUSA9 this statement:

“It is unreasonable for the mayor to put this pressure on the Council. The effect would be to prevent public comment. Under Council rules, there has to be a public hearing, and that could not happen until June — three weeks. Some of her proposals implicate constitutional issues, which is fine, but it’s better to work out the constitutionality rather than pass a law that gets struck down in the courts. That serves no one.”

Bowser is also ordering DC Public School leaders to strategize on new discipline policies and alternative placement for some students who are routinely suspended or skip school.  

She expects those policies to be implemented by the next school year.

Meanwhile, outside of Roosevelt High School, we spoke with Curlee Hall.  He is a returning citizen who served 18 years for murder.  Hall is now working to support young people and their families.  

“What they’re telling me is they need resources, sometimes they don’t have food, it’s hard for their families sometimes their fathers have been incarcerated and they’ve been the victims of violence,” he explained, “the youths are lashing out from lack of attention they're getting.”


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