Crime & Safety: Latest Reports, Aggravated Politics and Firearms


Heightened Political Tensions and D.C. Homicide Stats

Recent crime stats for the District show improvements in many categories, but not for homicides. So far, in 2022, the District has seen 139 intentional killings, a number already surpassing last year’s final total of 126, according to a report from DC Witness.org. In a study from Rochester Institute of Technology, the District ranks at number 7, just after Compton, California, in city homicide rates in the nation from 2020-2021, with the District’s rate rising 14.1 percent last year alone. 

With political polarization in the country and many aggravated protesters venturing to the nation’s capital to voice their grievances, police reports of violence have taken on an added urgency. 

Early yesterday morning, August 14, a man identified as Richard A. York III, 29, of Delaware, rammed his car into a barricade close to the U.S. Capitol and the U.S. Supreme Court, set fire to his car, exited the vehicle and fired several shots into the air as officers approached before he died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, according to the New York Times. 

“At this time, it does not appear the man was targeting any members of Congress, who are on recess,” according to the U.S. Capitol Police.

“Cases of violence directed at public buildings and officials have grown since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol,” the Times reported. “A warrant to search for classified material at former President Donald J. Trump’s beachfront home and resort in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, prompted right-wing and Republican figures to warn of upcoming violence.” 

MPD Firearms Recovery 

When the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) releases its monthly “firearm recovery” data, there’s always good news and bad news.  

The good news for the first week of August is that “through intelligence-based policing to identify, interdict, and interrupt armed violent offenders within the District,” MPD took 62 firearms off the city’s streets. The bad news, of course, is not only the sheer volume of illegal firearms in circulation within the city, but the number of ghost guns, semi-automatic weapons such as Khalishnakov rifles, and high-capacity magazines in the mix as well as the alarming number of the city’s youth involved.  

Perhaps it’s therefore not surprising that gun violence seems more frequent near Georgetown. On Thursday, Aug. 11, MPD Second District Commander Duncan Bedlion appeared on Fox 5 News, live and on-scene, to answer reporters’ questions about an apparent drive-by double-shooting from a “silver car” in the Dupont Circle area, on the 2000 block of Florida Avenue NW at approximately 9:32 p.m.  

“Tonight, our officers were in the area… when they heard sounds of gunshots. They were right here at the intersection of Connecticut and Florida,” Bedlion said. “They quickly identified a victim and began the process to make sure the victim got treatment.” Soon a second victim was brought to the spot. “Unfortunately,” Bedlion announce, “one of those victims, an adult male, was pronounced deceased. And then our other victim is in critical but stable condition at an area hospital.” One reporter asked if the victims were simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and whether one of them happened to just be crossing the street. Bedlion said it was “too early to tell,” but confirmed MPD believed the car was traveling east at the time of the shooting and had possibly more than one shooter inside. 

In an update to the story on Aug. 12, NBC News reported that “a man was killed and another person was shot near a strip club in D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood Thursday night….  spurring officers to shut down streets in the busy area.” The deceased victim was identified as Stephon Johns, 31, whom police believed to have been “targeted” by the killers thought to have been “circling around the area in a silver 2021 Alfa Romeo Giulia.” After spotting Johns along Florida Avenue, the report said, “four people got out of the car and opened fire, killing him and hitting another man who happened to be nearby.” The second victim is expected to survive. 

“Clearly they wanted to kill this individual…” said MPD Cmdr. John Haines. “There’s no regard for anyone else. You know, they were targeting him, clearly someone else got hit, and a lot of other people could’ve been injured in this incident.” 

Other Crimes in the Area

On Aug. 11, MPD also reported a search for a suspect in knife assault on the 1600 block of I Street NW that occurred on Aug. 3. Second District police were called at 7:27 p.m. with report of a stabbing. Upon arrival, “members located an adult male victim suffering from apparent stab wounds.” The victim was “transported to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries,” MPD reported. In an update, MPD reported that “the suspect was captured by nearby cameras and can be seen in this video: https://youtu.be/FHUsFrkfPJE.”

MPD also announced yesterday a search for a suspect in a stolen auto case stemming from an Aug. 9 incident on the 1700 block of Hobart Street NW. At approximately 12:00 a.m., the “suspect entered an occupied residence at the listed location” and once inside, “took property and then fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle.” Shortly after, a surveillance camera appeared to capture the suspect “using the victim’s stolen credit cards.” MPD posted video surveillance of the suspect at: https://youtu.be/C90CAScJiRA

Police are also searching for a suspect in a string of sexual assaults on Aug. 3 from approximately 12:15 to 12:30 p.m. on the 2400 block of H Street NW. According to a Second District MPD report, the suspect, described as a “black male, approximately 40 years-old, 6’0’’ tall, short hair, medium build, last seen wearing a black shirt with white writing on the back, camouflage shorts, and gray and black shoes,” approached three separate victims in two incidents and “engaged in unwanted sexual contact.”  

MPD is also looking for information about a traffic fatality that occurred at approximately 4:11 p.m. on Aug. 3 on the 2100 block of Virginia Ave. NW.  Preliminary investigation “revealed a driver operating a Nissan Altima was traveling southeast on Virginia Avenue NW, after exiting the 23rd Street underpass” when “a pedestrian, outside of a crosswalk, began to cross Virginia Avenue from E Street northbound,” MPD reported. “The Nissan struck the pedestrian, in the roadway, causing significant injuries.” The accident victim, 66-year-old Timothy Fingarson, of Charles Town, West Virginia, was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.  

Anyone who has knowledge of these incidents should take no action but call police at 202-727-9099 or text your tip to the Department’s TEXT TIP LINE at 50411. Crime Solvers of Washington, DC currently offers a reward of up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the person or persons responsible for a crime committed in the District of Columbia. 

Editors’ note: the incidents reported here are culled from police reports and have not necessarily been adjudicated or resolved; a legal presumption of innocence applies.

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