US capital homicides hit high not seen since in 17 years

Over 200 people have been killed in the US capital so far this year, a milestone not seen since 2004, according to a report published on Tuesday.

A man was fatally shot in Southeast Washington, D.C. on Monday night, marking the 200th death this year, the Washington Post newspaper reported with more than a month to go in 2021. Police have not identified the victim.

The spike comes amid a wider increase in murders in major US cities this year with homicides rising in 29 cities through September, according to data compiled by the Council on Criminal Justice institute.

The FBI reported in September that the US saw a nearly 30% increase in killings in 2020.

City leaders, including those in Washington, maintain that there is no quick clear-cut explanation for the dramatic increase, but D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said that hitting the grim 200 murder milestone is "deeply troubling."

"Lives that matter in our city were unnecessarily taken away too soon," he said in an interview with the Post. Some people, Contee said, "don’t have empathy for another human being.”

“What’s the issue?” the police chief asked. “What is it over at the end of the day? Where is our sense of humanity?”

Washington, D.C. has seen consecutive years of increased killings since 2017 when 116 were recorded, and while shootings are down slightly from 2020 they rose 48% that year. Killings are also up in two Maryland counties bordering the capital, and in Virginia's Fairfax county.

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