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After Several Homicides DC Police Chief Meets With Rattled Community

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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In the wake of several violent crimes and homicides, Washington, D.C. police chief Peter Newsham met with rattled residents in Ward 4 Thursday.

Residents gathered with Newsham and members of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to quell fears that violence is on the rise across the city. A teenage girl died Monday after a fight on a Metrobus spilled onto the street and an 18-year-old girl allegedly stabbed her with a steak knife. The community is fearful following the stabbing, along with a double homicide that claimed the lives of two men and several other incidents, reports WJLA.

Newsham stressed that overall, violent crime is down from last year’s numbers and the crimes do not appear to be random attacks.

“In none of the cases that we’ve had up here do we believe that those were random in any way,” Newsham told the community, according to WJLA. “In our city we have a five percent decrease in crime as compared to last year. We have been doing a lot this year to interdict illegal firearms.”

While both violent crime and property crime are down five percent this year, the general trends are not reassuring. The homicide rate in the District spiked 54 percent in 2015 and is only 12 percent lower this year. Despite the slight decline in the city-wide murder rate, certain areas, like Ward 7, are being ravished and have experienced an overall rise in homicides.

D.C. has experienced 110 homicides across the city this year. This number is down from the shocking numbers seen in 2015 but is still historically high. There were a total of 105 homicides in 2014 and 88 in 2012.

Newsham specifically addressed the stabbing death of 17-year-old Kaelia Minor on Monday, which left Ward 4 residents searching for answers.

“It brought back memories, and the memories that it brought back (were of) my granddaughter,” Alice Gilmore told WJLA. Gilmore lost her granddaughter to a stabbing 20 years ago.

After a verbal fight with 18-year-old Kyla Jones on the Metrobus, Minor exited the vehicle at the intersection of Kansas Avenue and Emerson Street NW. Jones followed Minor off the Metrobus and stabbed her in the chest. Authorities transported Minor to a local hospital where she succumbed to her injury.

Two men were gunned down in Northwest, D.C. Saturday in an incident on Kennedy Street in Ward 4 at roughly 2:15 a.m. Authorities pronounced one man dead at the scene, and the other passed away Sunday at a local hospital.

Newsham also discussed several other murders, including one on Riggs Road and an Oct. 13 stabbing.

Vincent Gray, the former mayor who retook his old council seat in Ward 7 earlier this year, is highly critical of Mayor Muriel Bowser for the high levels of crime. Bowser responded to last year’s spike in homicides by proposing a crime bill with former Police Chief Cathy Lanier to the D.C. Council last fall. The proposal aimed to crack down on crime with harsher sentences.

The D.C. Council declined to even consider the bill and countered with a proposal to essentially pay criminals not to commit crimes. That effort failed in the spring without Bowser’s support.

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