DC officials discuss violence prevention after 3 shot in 2 days in Columbia Heights

Concern is heightened after three people were shot within two days in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood.

On Friday, two men were wounded in a daytime shooting along Columbia Road near an elementary school. They are recovering from their injuries.

And before the weekend was over, D.C. police said a man was critically wounded in a shooting early Sunday on Hiatt Place near Park Road.

It’s not certain if there’s a connection between these incidents.

There have been several shootings in the Columbia Heights neighborhood this year — including a woman shot one Saturday night in April, and a man shot to death on a February afternoon that led to a lockdown at a nearby elementary school.

Ward 1 D.C. Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau told WTOP having more police around is just one part of violence prevention efforts in the ward.

“Sometimes when there is violence occurring, people want to see that stepped-up police presence and we do have that, but a police presence on one block means that oftentimes the violent activity just moves a block away,” Nadeau said. She also noted that “it’s not the only thing we do, because it doesn’t often end the violence. It just moves it around.”

She said violence interrupters working on conflict resolution “is a huge one because with the presence of firearms, every conflict escalates quickly.”

“[D.C.’s police department] has done a tremendous job getting guns off the street every day, but more come in through Maryland and Virginia despite the fact that the District has some of the strongest gun protection laws in the country. So we have to continue getting the guns off the street,” said said.

Nadeau also highlighted the significance of other important facets of violence prevention.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important having people who do gang violence interruption and prevention in our communities is, because that’s what’s going to make a difference over time, and that’s what makes a difference also in the immediate,” she said.

In the meantime, Kent Boese, who chairs the Ward 1A Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said he’s noticed some of the areas where shootings have occurred “aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse.”

Speaking about the weekend shootings, Boese said, “I’ve seen some chatter on the neighborhood listservs … many of the concerns we have for public safety and violence and shootings in the neighborhoods have gone back months. And so a lot of outreach or concern I would expect to hear, I’m not really hearing now because I think we’ve all said it before and we’ve all been saying it for quite some time: The violence is unacceptable, we need a plan.”

He recalled a recent shooting in the area he represents. The Washington Post reported that a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed by a masked intruder in the Park View neighborhood last month. The boy’s stepfather saw the whole thing.

“You know, we’ve been advocating with [D.C. police] for foot patrols. We’ve been advocating with our council member for more resources, whether they be violence disruptors or the agencies that are supposed to be dealing with these on a more social level, but frankly, we need everything to come to bear so that we can get out of this safety crisis that we currently have,” Boese said.

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