‘Unacceptable spike in violence’: DC officials want illegal guns off city streets

WASHINGTON — City leaders are responding after a holiday weekend in D.C. left four people dead and more than three wounded following 10 shootings.

Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered several departments to respond across the city, including check-ins with juveniles in the youth rehabilitation program and with parolees. The majority of the shootings broke out in Wards 7 and 8 during the three-day period.

Just before 2 a.m. Saturday, in what was the sixth shooting of the weekend, community activist and entrepreneur Alexander Mosby was gunned down.

“You look at the Mosby family — they’ve lost their dad, a woman has lost her husband. We have to say at some point, enough is enough,” D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said Tuesday on WTOP.

In another incident over the weekend, a couple was killed after a dispute between families, leaving five children orphaned. At a press conference Tuesday night in Southeast D.C., Newsham named the suspect: Alonzo Lewis, 33, is wanted for first-degree murder while armed. Newsham attributed the violence to the presence of firearms.

At this same press conference, Bowser called the recent shootings an “unacceptable spike in violence.”

Residents and neighborhoods “continue to be torn apart” because of illegal firearms, she said, echoing Newsham. She asked members of the community to report illegal firearms.

But, Bowser added, “Policing alone cannot solve the issues of violence affecting communities,” saying that the city continues to work with community partners and increase job training opportunities.

Earlier, Newsham spoke to WTOP about the recent surge, saying, “This is very different from what we saw in 2015. In 2015, we saw an increase in homicides in the city. A lot of those homicides were attributed to these crews that were going back and forth. There was a lot of retaliation.”

But, Newsham said, in most of the recent shootings, those who were involved knew each other.

“They are disputes between known parties. Somebody introduces a firearm into that dispute, and the next thing you know, we have somebody shot, somebody killed.”

He said that along with focusing on pulling illegal firearms off the streets, the city needs to re-examine the penalties for carrying illegal weapons.

“I also think we need to take a strong look at what the consequences are for carrying an illegal firearm and make sure those penalties are significant enough where we’re having an impact,” he said.

The minimum sentence in D.C. for a felon with a firearm is a year in prison. It is two years for other unlawful forms of firearm possession.

WTOP’s Teta Alim contributed to this report. 


Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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