- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A recent spate of slayings has driven homicide tallies above last year’s totals in each of the jurisdictions surrounding the District.

Early yesterday, police found a man found fatally shot in a car in Germantown, driving Montgomery County’s homicide total to 18, passing last year’s total of 17.

Stephen William Kelley, 20, of the 7000 block of Cypress Hill Drive in Gaithersburg, was found in a silver, four-door Hyundai sitting in the 18000 block of Stone Hollow Drive, Montgomery County police spokeswoman Blanca King said. She said Mr. Kelley’s body was slumped over in the passenger seat of the car, which was still running.

Neighbors in the nearby town houses called police just after 5 a.m. after hearing two or three gunshots. Police said they had no motive and no suspect, but they think it was not a random killing and that it may have been drug-related.

Fairfax County police reported 22 homicides as of yesterday after a quadruple killing on Christmas morning swelled the county’s homicide total.

Fairfax County police spokesman Officer Richard Henry said yesterday that detectives have been working around the clock on the case. So far, police have not released any theories on what motivated a McLean man to fatally shoot his mother in her McLean home and three others at a house in Great Falls before killing himself.

Fairfax City police yesterday identified a man found fatally stabbed Monday night as Elmer Portillo, 33. He was found in the 9400 block of Fairfax Boulevard. The killing of Mr. Portillo, who was homeless, does not figure into the county homicide total since it occurred in the incorporated city of Fairfax, which maintainsits own police force and keeps its own crime statistics. Fairfax City police said the homicide was their first this year.

County police have not reported 22 homicides since at least 1993, the earliest year for which they track crime statistics on the department’s Web site.

A Dec. 7 killing in Alexandria was the city’s third killing of 2005, one above its 2004 total.

Arlington has not recorded a killing in December, but has seen five in 2005, up from one in 2004. Police officials in the county said five is within the average range since 2000.

Capt. C.V. Morris, head of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Violent Crimes Branch, said the increase in violence toward the end of the year is typical.

“We see a little increase because it ‘tis the season to be robbing,” he said yesterday. Domestic killings may grab headlines during the holiday season, but Capt. Morris said that no one particular cause is driving the homicide escalation.

In the District, which a few weeks ago looked as if it would record a second year of declines in the annual number of killings, there have been 36 homicides since the start of November and 16 since the start of December. The District’s total number of homicides as of yesterday was 194, one above the total of 193 at this time last year. The District finished 2004 with 198 homicides.

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, recognized the spike in homicides and other violent crimes and suspended a provision in the department’s collective-bargaining agreement that allows him greater flexibility to deploy officers.

The temporary suspension of the agreement allows commanding officers to change tours of duty and days off and allows them to extend work hours without prior notice.

Prince George’s County has exceeded not only its homicide total from last year with 168 killings through yesterday, but also has surpassed its previous record high of 154 killings set in 1991.

County officials hope that additional officers can slow the pace. Officials announced earlier this month that the force was at an all-time high of 1,478 officers.

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