Is violent crime in DC on the rise? Here’s what the data says

A double shooting along 14th Street that terrified diners and pedestrians in the busy nightlife area comes on the heels of a 6-year-old girl’s killing, as well as a targeted shooting outside of Nationals Park. Some might be asking — is violence in D.C. getting worse?

D.C. police data indicate that violent crime in the city is just barely below what it was this time last year, with 7% fewer reports of sex abuse and 4% fewer assaults with a dangerous weapon.

But there have been two more killings this year than last.

Important to note, 2020 was a very violent year in the District. The year closed out with violent crime up 19% from 2019, according to D.C. police data.

A year-to-date snapshot of crime in D.C. as of July 23, 2021. (Courtesy D.C. police)

Both the shooting along 14th Street and Riggs Street as well as the shooting outside Nationals Park that injured three people were targeted, Chief Robert Contee said. Investigators are still looking for a motive in 6-year-old Nyiah Courtney’s killing during which gunfire injured five other people.

“Too many people are hearing too many gunshots too often to feel safe in their own homes,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a meeting with ANC Neighborhood leaders just two hours before the 14th Street shooting.

Bowser shared her frustration and anger over recent shootings, in particular the gunfire that killed Courtney as she walked with her mother in Southeast D.C.

“I’m sure that there may be some specific public safety questions, especially in a week following the senseless and vicious killing of a six-year-old in our community, which we’re sick about,” she said to the neighborhood leaders. “But I can tell you that we’re leaving no stone unturned in addressing this violence. And I know that you share certainly my anger and frustration about this, and more importantly, our collective resolve as a community to identify those things that the community can do.”

Bowser highlighted her commitment to investing in violence prevention programs like Building Blocks.

“We have identified 151 blocks in the District that account for most of the violent crime in the whole city. So we know that on those blocks with that concentration of gun violence and shooting, that a lot of neighbors don’t feel safe,” she said.

She earmarked funding for a number of violence interruption programs in the FY 2022 budget.

The budget the mayor put forth to the council has passed with amendments on its first vote and is scheduled for a second vote later this summer.

Megan Cloherty

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

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