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Spike in DC homicides adds to violent national trend

Shooting deaths in the District are up for 2020 compared to years past, and those who want to change gun violence are having trouble amid the pandemic.

WASHINGTON — Ten shooting deaths in DC within a week points to a national homicide and gun violence issue that is gripping the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice looked at crime data from 27 cities. It found homicides are up 53% this summer compared to 2019.

In 2020, at least 156 people have been killed in D.C., and 10 of the homicides happened within the past week from Oct. 5 through Oct. 11. Overall, there is an 18% increase in District homicides when compared to this time last year in 2019.

This violence represents an alarming spike.

Community leaders here in D.C. said the effects of pandemic life and social unrest have made it difficult to mediate conflict… before things turn violent.

Following the series of violence over the weekend, No Murders DC founder David Bowers said the rise in crime highlighted a big need in the District.

"It's a reminder that we, as a city, need to have a real institutionalized comprehensive approach to ending homicide," Bowser said. "We can create the infrastructure and the bandwidth to pull together all city agencies as well as private sector stakeholders to really work on this in a systematic and institutionalized way.” 

Bowers started No Murders DC in 2000 and has called for a greater commitment from district leaders to end murders in the area.

The National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice believes that overcoming the pandemic -- following effective crime control strategies and passing police reforms -- will be necessary to reduce violent crimes and homicides across the country.

According to Bowers, improved crime prevention efforts could come from bringing in community groups and others.

"The coordination is really critical to make sure that we are getting at this issue," he said. "We could figure out what are the goals, what’s working, what’s not working."

Moving forward, Bowers said the need to better address murders in the district grew with every victim.

"It’s frustrating. It’s angering. It’s sobering," he said. "We need to understand that this is not a COVID-19 specific issue even though it may be exacerbated by some of the angst that people are experiencing.” 

Along with an increase in D.C. homicides, the District has seen a 14% increase in aggravated assaults in 2020, compared to 2019.

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