Deadly weekend in Washington, D.C. as district grapples with rising number of murders

By Erin Donaghue

/ CBS News

These cities saw murders increase in 2018

Washington — Four people were shot dead over the weekend in Washington, D.C. as the nation's capital grapples with a rising number of homicides. Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham and Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke at a news conference Sunday at the scene where three people were killed the previous day on a southeast Washington street, hoping to calm neighbors' fears, reports CBS affiliate WUSA9. Also on Saturday, police say a 59-year-old man was shot and killed in northeast Washington in a separate incident.

The scene in southeast Washington, D.C. where three people were fatally shot Saturday WUSA9

The four deaths come amid increasing concern about deadly violence in D.C. Though the number of homicides have dropped overall since peaking in the early 1990s, Washington saw 160 murders in 2018 compared to 116 in 2017 — a 38 percent increase. And so far in 2019, the district has recorded 18 murders, up from 10 at the same time last year, according to police data.

Many major U.S. cities saw decreases in homicides between 2017 and 2018, but Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia were among the cites that instead saw a significant uptick.

Newsham said Sunday that while the number of shootings across the city has remained consistent, "the lethality of shootings has actually increased."

Bowser urged the community to come forward to report illegal guns and criminal activity like drugs, gambling or prostitution that could lead to arguments that result in deadly gunfights.

"We have had too many gun crimes at the start of 2019 and already too many lives lost," Bowser said, reports NBC Washington. "Ending the violence is going to take more than just the efforts of MPD."

Newsham said officers responding to the shooting in the Fort Davis area around 10 p.m. Saturday found two men in a car and another man in the street nearby, all dead of multiple gunshot wounds. Officers found a handgun, ammunition and drugs in the car, Newsham said. Police are still searching for two suspects seen leaving the scene in a dark sedan, WUSA9 reports. They identified the the victims as 26-year-old Sean Shuler, 26-year-old Havon Abney and 24-year-old Tyrik Hagood.

None of the victims had ties to the neighborhood, Newsham said, a quiet area with many elderly residents.

"It was very unusual to see what we saw out here last night," said Newsham.

Murder map: Deadliest U.S. cities
Murder map: Deadliest U.S. cities 62 photos

Richard Evans, who lives next door to the crime scene, said he has a six-year-old daughter. "She doesn't understand what gunshots are, it's that quiet here," Evans said.

He said it's scary that a triple homicide happened so close to home.

"We can't have this. This is bad," Evans told the station. "I mean, this is about as bad as it gets."

Neighbor Maro Craig told the station she has begged for more patrols in the neighborhood.

Washington, D.C. council member and former mayor Vincent Gray called for a greater police presence.

"We should be taking action on a proactive basis, not a reactive basis, and we're into a reactive situation now just because of the increased number of homicides we've seen already," Gray told the NBC station.

Newsham told WUSA9 he plans to announce new crime-fighting measures soon.

First published on January 28, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Erin Donaghue

Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.

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