DC neighborhood confronts its biggest concern: shootings near schools

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Angelica Castanon addresses a group of Columbia Heights residents. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Angelica Castanon addresses a group of Columbia Heights residents. (WTOP/Dick Uliano) (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
A poster taped to the window spells out the community’s top three concerns. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
A poster taped to the window spells out the community’s top three concerns. (WTOP/Dick Uliano) (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
Columbia Heights residents discuss spate of gun violence and what they can do to help curb it. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
Columbia Heights residents discuss spate of gun violence and what they can do to help curb it. (WTOP/Dick Uliano) (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
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Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Angelica Castanon addresses a group of Columbia Heights residents. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
A poster taped to the window spells out the community’s top three concerns. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
Columbia Heights residents discuss spate of gun violence and what they can do to help curb it. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)
A series of shootings the last four months near an elementary school have raised alarm in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood.

Police have boosted area patrols, but neighbors are being advised that they can help stem the tide of gun violence by volunteering their time.

In February, a man was shot to death near Harriet Tubman Elementary School. Then last month, two more men were wounded in another shooting near the school in the 3100 block of 13th Street NW in Columbia Heights.

Residents came together Wednesday evening for a public safety meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A. Those who asked about the recent spike of gun violence were told that gang members dislocated from other neighborhoods have moved into Columbia Heights, sparking conflict and contributing to the problem.

“Individuals who don’t know each other from different gangs are now fighting internally and these individuals are targeting each other,” said Angelica Castanon, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 1A06.

Residents were told that while police have beefed up resources, police can do only so much. Community members must also get involved.

“We have a lot of volunteer opportunities for mentors, weekend reading programs, after school programs, summer programs, and this addresses more the prevention side of public safety issues,” said Castanon.

City-run drug prevention programs and youth centers are stepping up efforts against violence. So are nonprofit groups in the community, including the Salvation Army.

“As summer gets closer you’re going to see more of an uptick in violence and MPD and the various agencies have been doing a good job of addressing some of that,” Castanon said.

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