News & Politics

DC’s Murder Rate Reaches Its Highest Number in 15 Years

Last night's shooting of a one-year-old boy brings the total number of 2020 homicides to 187.

187 people have been killed in DC this year, making the city’s homicide count the highest it’s been since 2005. The most recent death was last night’s fatal shooting of a one-year-old boy near the Prince George’s County border, after someone opened fire on a car occupied by the child.

That means there has already been a 20 percent increase in homicides in DC, and the year isn’t over yet. While overall crime is down 18 percent (mostly due to reductions in sex abuse, and general theft), numbers for some other violations have risen. Assault from a dangerous weapon is up 5 percent, and motor vehicle theft has jumped by 47 percent.

Today, DC police chief Peter Newsham blamed the rise in violence on an increase in illegal firearms; he had previously attributed the rise to “repeat violent gun offenders being released back into our community.” The New York Times recently reported the pandemic has had adverse effects on programs and infrastructures that focus on violence prevention.

Still, the number of killings is a far cry from DC’s crime rates in the late ’80s and early ’90s. In 1991, the number of homicides peaked at 482.

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.