The Washington Post

Violent night as Senate nixes bill

D.C. SEES FIVE MORE SHOOTINGS Bipartisan vote spikes local crime law overhaul


A man was killed, and two others, including a 15-year-old boy, were injured in a shootout Tuesday night in Southeast Washington, according to D.C. police, a deadly incident that came as national political leaders turned their focus to crime in the city.

The shooting — one of five in D.C. from Tuesday night through early Wednesday evening — came a day ahead of the Senate voting to block an overhaul of the city’s criminal code. Opponents of the legislatio­n claimed it would have made the city less safe by reducing maximum penalties for some crimes, such as carjacking­s, and the move by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to nix the measure sparked debate about public safety and D.C.’S ability to govern its own affairs.

“There are so many people getting killed — too many,” said Mary Faulkner, the 69-year-old grandmothe­r of Dana Faulkner, who was killed in the shootout Tuesday night in Woodland Terrace in Southeast Washington. She described her grandson as a new father.

Just before the Senate voted on the crime code resolution Wednesday evening, Mayor Muri

el E. Bowser (D) joined Police Chief Robert J. Contee III and other public safety leaders on a community walk in Petworth, where a man was fatally stabbed in the neighborho­od library earlier this month.

Bowser said she is planning to hold a public safety summit in April to bring together local and federal officials to discuss ways to combat crime. She said that in the next 30 days, she will also present a new legislativ­e package to the D.C. Council to address crime. Bowser did not offer specifics but said the proposal would be separate from changes she had previously suggested to the overhaul of the criminal code.

The mayor said the proposed legislatio­n will “make sure we have policies in place to hold people accountabl­e.”

D.C. has now recorded 40 homicides this year, a 33 percent increase over the same period in 2022. While violent crime is down 8 percent, the District is on pace for a third consecutiv­e year with 200 or more killings. Before 2021, the last time D.C. had at least 200 killings was 2003.

Overall crime in D.C. is up 25 percent, driven in large part by the doubling of auto thefts this year, which police attribute to a social media challenge targeting Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

D.C. is ahead of Philadelph­ia, Chicago, Atlanta and New York City in per capita homicides this year, but it was third in that group in per capita killings in all 2022, according to statistics from the police department­s. The trend is the same for robberies. D.C. is near the bottom of those cities in per capita auto thefts.

Tuesday’s killing of Faulkner, 23, came during a 7:45 p.m. shootout in the 2700 block of Bruce Place SE, D.C. police said. Faulkner was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound to the head, police said, and another man was found wounded at that location.

Police said 10 minutes later, officers found the 15-year-old critically wounded by gunfire more than two miles away, at Wheeler Road and Mississipp­i Avenue in Congress Heights.

A police spokesman said investigat­ors believe the teenager was shot on Bruce Place and driven in a vehicle to where he was found.

Police said they did not know if the youth was in the vehicle when he was shot. Attempts to reach the teenager’s relatives were unsuccessf­ul Wednesday. Two other teens — ages 13 and 17 — have been shot and killed this year.

D.C.’S mayor and police chief have said they are trying to rebuild a force that has lost hundreds of officers, and they have at times found themselves at odds with a liberal D.C. Council. Bowser herself vetoed the criminal code overhaul, which police and others objected to, though the council overrode her before federal lawmakers stepped in.

Proponents of the overhaul argue that criticism of the sentencing changes are overblown. The bill, they say, brings technical maximum penalties in line with what judges had been handing down all along, and in some cases increases penalties for crimes involving firearms.

But even many Democrats opposed the measure and were willing to reject the idea that D.C. should govern its own affairs to stop it. Demonstrat­ors supporting home rule gathered outside the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, and police said they made more than a dozen arrests.

Despite vetoing the bill, Bowser ultimately urged Congress to stay out of local affairs. President Biden has said he would sign the resolution to block the bill.

At the end of a news conference at the community walk in Petworth, neighborho­od resident Michelle Engert told the mayor that people “are afraid of this community now” and that her elderly neighbors won’t take the bus.

Bowser noted her administra­tion had made investment­s in alternativ­e justice programs, and described her approach to crime fighting as “prevention, opportunit­y, enforcemen­t.” But, she said: “In order for prevention and opportunit­y to work, enforcemen­t has to work. There has to be consequenc­es, and right now we’re lacking in consequenc­es.”

Moments later, Engert, a former federal assistant public defender in Maryland, said in an interview: “I know what consequenc­es look like, and I know what a lack of opportunit­y looks like. But I also know what it’s like to live here and be scared to go to the grocery store, or use the Metro or the bus.”

“I know what a lack of opportunit­y looks like. But I also know what it’s like to live here and be scared to go to the grocery store, or use the Metro or the bus.” Michelle Engert, Petworth resident

 ?? BILL O’leary/the Washington POST ?? D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) discusses increased crime at a news conference in the Petworth neighborho­od.
BILL O’leary/the Washington POST D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) discusses increased crime at a news conference in the Petworth neighborho­od.

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