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Responding to Gun Violence in Our Community

My heart is heavy this morning as our community was again devastated by gun violence. Each life lost is someone who will never take their child to a ball game, share a laugh with their friends, or care for an aging parent. Each person lost leaves family, friends, and community bereft, and my heart breaks for them.

My team was on the scene last night and I received a comprehensive update from Chief Contee this morning. Chief Contee confirmed that the shooting last night involved neighborhood crews. He has assigned the case to a major case squad and brought in investigative resources from across the city. He is also receiving support from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a federal agency that is conducting a full gun search to aid forensics and link the case with any others. We have significant footage of the shooting, which is being carefully reviewed now. MPD has also released a photo of the vehicle believed to be connected to the shooting (a black Honda Accord sedan) and is offering a significant reward for information that leads to those who are responsible. Meanwhile, the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement is actively working to prevent escalation and retaliation. This is incredibly important, especially given the likelihood that this was a retaliatory shooting following gun violence that took place earlier this week.

Since February, I and countless community leaders and fellow Ward 4 residents have asked for Kennedy Street to be included in Building Blocks, the city’s major gun violence prevention initiative. Building Blocks brings a surge of agency resources to areas impacted by gun violence and addresses gun violence in a strategic, comprehensive way. At the time, we were told that Kennedy Street did not meet the data requirements to be part of Building Blocks. Last night the Kennedy Street area was the site of the most deadly mass shooting in DC this year. We cannot afford to be reactive to gun violence, then leave our communities to pick up the pieces. Kennedy Street and its adjacent blocks must immediately be added to the Building Blocks initiative and receive the resources needed to curb this violence.

I have requested a public safety briefing for Ward 4 leadership and will update residents as soon as it’s scheduled. I will continue to prioritize the safety of our communities and take concrete actions to address gun violence. That includes continuing to coordinate regularly with 4th District leadership on strategy and responding to public safety concerns. It includes continuing to fight for massive budget investments in programs that disrupt violence in Ward 4. And it includes rapidly addressing conditions that are statistically correlated with crime such mental health and addiction issues, vacant and blighted properties, and other neighborhood conflict. I’ll also continue building on the work we’ve already done to coordinate multiagency neighborhood walkthroughs and public safety meetings, remove ghost guns from our communities, and bring jobs and opportunity to communities that have been systematically underinvested in for decades.

This is a moment that demands unity and action. I grew up on Kennedy Street and will never allow for any degree of gun violence in our community to be tolerated or normalized. Please join me in praying for our lost neighbors, Donnetta Dyson, Keenan Braxton, Johnny Joyner, and their grieving families. Each of them should still be with us, and we owe it to them to work collectively to build peaceful, just communities where all of us are safe.

How to stay updated and engaged in Ward 4:

For anyone looking to learn more about some of the root causes of gun violence in DC, the TRIGGER Project offers helpful resources and solutions.