Pleas for more police rise after D.C. crime wave

Columbia Heights shootings spike

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A violent crime wave in the District’s upper Columbia Heights neighborhood has residents, a D.C. Council member and other civic leaders asking police for more street-level enforcement.

The series of incidents began Saturday with a triple-shooting in the 1400 block of Parkwood Place Northwest and was followed by two armed attacks several days later.

Council member Jim Graham said Thursday the shootings — in which two men were killed and another was critically injured — occurred during an early morning craps game.

“There is no reason at all why there should be a craps game taking place,” said Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, who described street gambling on Parkwood Place as a notorious problem. “If the police would focus attention, this would end.”

The shootings already had residents on high alert when another shooting occurred Tuesday just three blocks away.

A man was held at gunpoint as he walked in the 1400 block of Spring Road at about 10:40 p.m. and was shot during a struggle with the assailant, according to Metropolitan Police Department reports.

About three hours later, an employee of Wonderland Bar and Grill, on 11th and Kenyon streets Northwest, was held at gunpoint inside the business. Jermonte Crutchfield, 18, was arrested in connection with the robbery, police said.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission leader Lisa Kralovic said the current police practice of driving up and down problem streets is not enough to prevent crime, including gambling.

“I think what we want to see is more foot patrol and bike patrol,” Ms. Kralovic said, expressing the concerns of several neighbors who recently vented about the incidents on a neighborhood listserv. “What’s frustrating is when you call police about noise or loitering, and it could indicate some type of criminal activity, the normal response is to drive through the area.”

The most recent city police data shows crime overall is down in Police Service Area 302, which includes Wonderland and Parkwood Place. However, robberies with guns are up 44 percent this year with 39 incidents so far reported.

Third District Cmdr. Jacob Kishter wrote in an email to residents that the department is working to combat the issues.

“I can’t get in to the specifics of what we are doing, but rest assured you will notice a difference,” he wrote.

Ernest E. Johnson, a 40-year-resident of Parkwood Place, said police need to fully commit to fixing the problem.

“Will there be an immediate response?,” he asked. “Of course. What will the response be six months from now? Probably about the same response it was six months ago.”

He also said civic leaders need to make a point of visiting the community and engaging the young residents.

“We have to have our community engaged in something meaningful,” he said, suggesting the employment of youth for neighborhood beautification projects.

Residents expect a community meeting to be held Tuesday to discuss the recent incidents, though a location has not been set.

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