CM Allen/MPD Officials Respond to NE Resident Fear on Homicides
by Larry Janezich
There was a standing room only crowd at ANC6A’s November meeting Thursday night to hear CM Charles Allen and MPD 1st District Commander Morgan Kane and MPD 5th District Commander William Fitzpatrick address concerns about the recent homicides a few blocks northeast of Lincoln Park and a spate of gunshots in the community as well as a number of shootings near 15th and Benning Road, NE. This area saw the shooting of eight people in five incidents in a two week period spanning October and November.
Of most concern were two homicides a few blocks apart on D Street, NE, which occurred within a nine days of each other in mid-October. The killings were not related, according to 1st District Commander Kane. The latest occurred on October 16, in the 1300 block of D Street, NE. Neighbors described the victim – Ezequiel Jimenez Pinto, 59 – as a valued and loved member of the community. Jimenez died after being shot multiple times at 1:15pm in front of his house. There are no suspects in what police believe was a targeted shooting; a car pulled up, they said, and shot directly into the victim’s car.
That killing in the 1300 block of D Street followed an October 7th homicide at 5:30pm, a few blocks away at 15th and D, near the home of CM Allen. Walter Baylor, 32, died after suffering a gunshot wound. In this case, a suspect was arrested almost immediately after running a stop sign while fleeing. The arresting officers did not know a shooting had occurred. The suspect remains in custody.
5th District Commander Fitzpatrick explained that a number of shootings around 1500 Benning Road were related to a turf war between youths who are residents of the Pentacle Apartments near the starburst intersection. He said that they were unrelated to a nearby stabbing homicide nearby which had occurred Thursday morning. (Police subsequently made an arrest in the stabbing case on Friday.)
Allen said the shooting at 15th and D, occurred literally outside his house. He attributed the quick closure of the case to the beefed up police presence in the neighborhood following the earlier homicide. Regarding that shooting in the 1300 block of D, he said MPD had really good video from cameras of residents participating in MPD’s private security camera rebate system and urged residents to take advantage of the $250 rebate for purchase of a camera. (See here: https://ovsjg.dc.gov/service/private-security-camera-system-incentive-program)
As to how officials are responding to concerns about the violent crime, Allen cited his policy and budget efforts to put resources in the hands of MPD and reminded the audience that addressing violent crime is not just up to officers. Kane and Fitzpatrick both cited the MPD’s hard work to take guns off the streets.
When a neighborhood experiences a serious violent crime what usually happens is that police react to resident concerns and deploy resources borrowed from other jurisdictions to bolster police presence in the area. Things calm down and those resources have to be deployed to another hot spot. The departure leaves residents feeling less safe and frustrated.
Community pressure then results in a community meeting to discuss public safety. All four of the ANCs which touch Capitol Hill have had several of these meeting over the past ten years, and typically run to form. The standard procedure unfolds as follow as officials 1) reassure the community, 2) explain what measures are being taken to respond to concerns, and 3) remind residents that prevention of violent crime depends on residents taking steps to make themselves less vulnerable and to build an alert and engaged community.
More specifically, with respect to prevention, officials have some recommendations. They urge residents to participate in MPD’s security camera program, which provides benefits after criminal activity occurs, and maybe helps to reduce overall crime by taking miscreants off the street. In addition, residents can help make the streetscape less conducive to crime by reporting to CM Allen’s office poor lighting on dimly lit blocks because of poor lighting or because they are shadowed by overhanging tree limbs. Finally, residents’ best defense against violent crime is what the police call “situational awareness” – if something doesn’t look right don’t hesitate to call 911.
In reality and too often, any neighborhood is subject to the random violent crime of opportunity, the unexplained homicide, or the violent interaction of rival community factions. Our streets are generally safe, but residents need to behave as though they are not. And heed CM Allen’s final piece of advice: “Hold elected leaders accountable – tell us when we’re not doing enough.”
2018 Year-to-Date Crime Comparison*
As of November 9, 2018