DC police chief says gun violence to blame for spike in murders

Seven people were killed in D.C. over the weekend, and now the homicide total in the District this year has passed 100. That’s 23% higher than where the city was at this time in 2019, when the D.C. murder rate was higher than it has been in over a decade.

“I think it’s disturbing to all of us to be over 100 homicides at this point in the year,” D.C. police Chief Peter Newsham said during a news conference Monday.

Four of the weekend killings happened Friday, two Saturday and one Sunday.

The spree began Friday when Tamika Jones, 45, of Northeast D.C., was killed in an apparent drive-by shooting. Newsham said police have recovered the vehicle involved, and found evidence that shots were fired back at the vehicle.

The same night, police found William Charles Dismuke, 40, of no fixed address, shot in the neck in a hotel room in the 110 block of New Hampshire Avenue Northwest.

Just over an hour later, Evrett Harris, 19, of Southeast D.C., who was traveling in a stolen vehicle, was shot and killed by someone shooting from another vehicle. Police are looking for a red four-door Ford Taurus in that case.

Later in the weekend, a woman was killed in what police said was likely a domestic incident, a man was found in an F Street home with blunt force trauma and a man was found shot inside a Southeast D.C. apartment.

Newsham said guns are at the forefront of a resurgence of violence in D.C.

“I think we’ve talked about the increase in gun violence in our city for the last three years,” Newsham said. “It’s really kind of troubling because if you look at violent crime in our city, every other category of violent crime, we’ve had significant progress in reducing those numbers across the city, and it’s the gun violence that’s the challenge I think we all need to tackle.”

According to Newsham, about 50% of the people arrested for homicides in the District in 2018 and 2019 had a prior gun charge.

At least three of the four people that D.C. police have warrants for in the killing of 11-year-old Davon McNeal on the Fourth of July have prior gun charges.

Christian Wingfield, 22, of Hillcrest Heights, Maryland, is charged with premeditated first-degree murder while armed in McNeal’s killing. Wingfield was arrested last spring as a felon in possession of a firearm and was released. Police said he cut off his GPS bracelet shortly after the shooting.

Newsham didn’t say what a specific solution to lowering gun violence in D.C. would look like, but said that perpetrators of gun violence have to be held accountable.

“We don’t have a magic wand to stop this, but we definitely need to think about what we’re doing right now, because it’s not working,” Newsham said.

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report. 

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