The killing of an American University graduate named Matthew Shlonsky in an apparent crossfire shooting at the entrance to the Shaw-Howard University Metro Station sent another shock wave of alarm through an already alarmed D.C. populace and a frustrated police force.
The shooting, which occurred late afternoon on Saturday, upped the death by violent homicide count to 93, which, as of Saturday, was 20 more than the previous year. At deadline, it was 95.
Shlonsky’s death — violent and sudden and accompanied by the rolling rattle of gunfire by two different parties, according to police — was notable for its high drama, the large amount of media attention it received and the surge in general frustration among District government and police officials, as well as residents.
Earlier that week, Police Chief Cathy Lanier posited that an upsurge in the release of violent offenders was to blame. Earlier still, increased use of and trafficking in synthetic drugs was blamed.
Shootings are on the rise, but so are violent activities in general, with numerous stabbings, assaults and sexual assaults being reported.
A regular or even sporadic reading of the D.C. Police Union Daily News Clips, and a few excerpts, gives one a broader sense of what’s going on throughout the city. The shooting of Shlonsky, though he seems to have been an innocent bystander, was typical of other shootings, which appeared to spring from violently conducted disputes, arguments and grievances.
Perhaps it’s safe to say that no one is safe.
A man named Martin M. Flythe, 21, turned himself for in the murder of Michael Toland, 22. Another man, D’Andre Britton, was arrested in the stabbing of a Macy’s worker. On Aug. 13, an “armed carjacking occurred at 3:35 a.m. at 200 Neal St. NE.” “There was a stabbing at 2 a.m. at 4800 Alabama Avenue SE.” “A stabbing took place at 2300 Green Street SE.”
The reports are in the prosaic mode of Dragnet — just the facts and stats — and all the harder to bear for all that. Here are reports of deaths from the Aug. 17 citywide Crime Update:
“Charles Burton, 38, was shot to death early Friday morning in Douglass. Three males wearing white shirts and dark colored jeans were described as the suspects.” “Eric Anthony Jackson, 32, was shot and killed near the Anacostia Metro Station Saturday night.” “Eric Lee Smith, 44, was stabbed and killed earlier Tuesday morning in Bellevue.”
The number of deaths and violent acts — including a sexual assault in an Adams Morgan residential area — have increased steadily and show no signs of abating, dwindling or slowing down.