While most cities around the country are witnessing a decline in violent crime, Washington, D.C. is bucking the trend. Homicides are up 33% this year compared to the same point in 2022, while robberies have increased by 70% over last year’s levels. Carjackings in particular are soaring, with more than 650 reported through September 1st compared to 485 in 2022.
Many of these carjackings are being committed by juveniles, including an incident on Saturday night that led to shots being fired by the suspects’ intended victim.
D.C. police found during an initial investigation that a federal security officer who was off duty was sitting in his car when two juveniles approached him and demanded he exit the vehicle, according to a news release.
Police say one of the suspects was reportedly holding his hand in his front waistband pocket as if he had a handgun. As the security officer was getting out of the car, he used a hand gun to shoot one of the suspects. The other suspect fled the area.
According to police, the security guard legally owned the firearm and is cooperating with the investigation.
At this time, the security guard is not facing any criminal charges.
13-year-old Vernard Toney, Jr. passed away from his injuries at a local hospital in D.C. It’s not the first time a 13-year-old has been involved in a carjacking in our nation’s capitol this year. In fact, there have been incidents where kids who are even younger have been arrested and charged with armed robbery.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) arrested a group of five teens, age 13 to 16, Aug. 30 in connection with an Aug. 28 carjacking, as well as a a 16-year-old male from Southeast Washington on Aug. 27 who was a part of a group that carried out carjackings and robberies on Aug. 23 and 24. The 16-year-old faces charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and carjacking while using a gun, and detectives continue to search for the young man’s co-conspirators.
MPD also arrested a 12-year-old boy Aug. 20 in connection with a car-jacking in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast Washington. The boy held a gun in his possession at the time of his arrest, but failed at the carjacking when the victim refused to surrender the keys.
D.C.’s gun laws are pretty effective at making it difficult for law-abiding adults to possess or carry a firearm for self-defense, but they’re not doing squat to prevent prohibited persons from carrying a gun to aid in their criminal enterprises. In fact, I’d say it’s far easier for convicted felons or juveniles to illegally arm themselves than it is for someone to become a lawful gun owner in the District of Columbia.
This incident is not only an indictment of the failure of D.C.’s gun laws, but also its juvenile justice system. Teens know that serious consequences for violent crimes are few and far between, and the result is a tsunami of carjackings, robberies, and thefts by young offenders not old enough to legally get behind the wheel or own a gun.
So far there’s been no official word if the teen actually did have a firearm on him or if any guns were recovered at the scene, but if he wanted his victim to believe he was armed then the off-duty security officer would have had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury and the fatal shooting will likely be determined to be a justifiable use of force. It sounds like that’s where the investigation is leading, but we’ll keep our eyes out for any updates.